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J. Gresham Machen: Apologist and Exegete Cullen I K Story 

Preaching as Confluence Conrad H. Massa 

The Minister’s Theological Responsibility Seward Hiltner 


The Door That Closes 
Praise for All Things 
That Board Meeting at Corinth 
Return from Captivity 
God’s Affirmative Action 
Not by Bread Alone 

Paul W. Meyer 
Richard A. Baer, Jr. 

Carl W. Hensley 
Roderic P. Frohman 
Daniel L. Migliore 
Thomas W. Mann 

Bultmann and the Proclamation of the Word Ronald E. Sleeth 

A Commencement Address Re-Issued 

J. Ritchie Smith 




James I. McCord 

John A. Mackay 
President Emeritus 


Bryant M. Kirkland, President Harry G. Kuch, Vice-President 

Frederick E. Christian, Secretary 

Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company, New York, N.Y., Treasurer 

James F. Anderson 

William A. Pollard 

Clem E. Bininger 

Clifford G. Pollock 

Eugene Carson Blake 

Woodbury Ransom 

James A. Colston 

Mrs. William H. Rea 

Hugh B. Evans 

Lydia M. Sarandan 

Mrs. James H. Evans 

William H. Scheide 

John T. Galloway 

Laird H. Simons, Jr. 

Mrs. Charles G. Gambrell 

Frederick B. Speakman 

Francisco O. Garcia-Treto 

John M. Templeton 

Mrs. Reuel D. Harmon 

Daniel C. Thomas 

Ms. Alexandra G. Hawkins 

William P. Thompson 

Johannes R. Krahmer 

James M. Tunnell, Jr. 

Raymond I. Lindquist 

Samuel G. Warr 

J. Keith Louden 

David B. Watermulder 

Henry Luce III 

Irving A. West 

Dale W. McMillen, Jr. 

Charles Wright 

Earl F. Palmer 


Ralph M. Wyman 

J. Douglas Brown 

Miss Eleanor P. Kelly 

John G. Buchanan 

Weir C. Keder 

Allan Maclachlan Frew 

John S. Linen 

Henry Hird 

Luther I. Replogle 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2016 with funding from 
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The Princeton Seminary Bulletin 



J. Gresham Machen: Apologist and Exegete 91 

Preaching as Confluence 104 

The Minister’s Theological Responsibility 113 

Sermons : 

The Door That Closes 121 

Praise for All Things 124 

That Board Meeting at Corinth 134 

Return from Captivity 140 

God’s Affirmative Action 144 

Not by Bread Alone 150 

Bultmann and the Proclamation of the Word 153 

A Commencement Address Re-Issued 163 

Book Reviews: 

What in the World is the World Council of Churches, by 
Ans J. Van Der Bent 169 

No Offense: Civil Religion and the Protestant Taste, by 
J. M. Cuddihy 169 

The Center of Christianity, by John Hick 170 

S0ren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers, ed. and trans. by 
H. V. & E. H. Hong 172 

Reaping the Whirlwind: A Christian Interpretation of History, by 
Langdon Gilkey 173 

The Book of Daniel, by L. F. Hartman & A. A. DiLella 175 

Theology as Narration: A Commentary on the Book of Exodus, by 
G.A.F. Knight 176 

Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times, by 
Tom Horner 177 

Handbook of Biblical Criticism, by Richard N. Soulen 178 

Biblical Backgrounds of the Middle East Conflict, by 
G. Harkness & C. F. Kraft 179 

Donum Gentilicium: New Testament Studies in Honor of David Daube, 
ed. by E. Bammel, C. K. Barrett & W. D. Davies 180 

Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, by F. F. Bruce 181 

The Debate about the Bible, by Stephen T. Davies 184 

Reflections on History and Hope: Yesterday, Today, and 
What Next? by R. H. Bainton 186 

Calvinist Preaching and Iconoclasm in the Netherlands, 1544-1569, 
by P. M. Crew ^7 

The Priest in Community: Exploring the Roots of Ministry 

Learning Through Liturgy, by G. K. Neville & J. H. Westerhoff, III 187 

Magnalia Christi Americana, I & II, by Cotton Mather, 
ed. by K. B. Murdock 188 

Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform: An Essay on Religion and 
Social Change in America, 1607-1977, by W. G. McLoughlin 189 

Religion in the Old South, by Donald G. Mathews 190 

The Open Secret: Sketches for a Missionary Theology, by 
Lesslie Newbigin 191 

American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War, 

1860-1869, by J. H. Moorhead 193 

The Missionary Enterprise in China and America, ed. by 
J. K. Fairbank 194 

Architect of Unity: A Biography of Samuel McC. Cavert, 
by W. J. Schmidt 195 

A Concise History of the Christian World Mission, by 
J. H. Kane 197 

Celebrating the Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, 
by R. J. Foster 198 

Sacred Art in a Secular Century, by Horton & Hugh Davies 199 

Unfinished Easter: Sermons on Ministry, by D.H.C. Read 199 

Living in a New Age, by Laurence H. Stookey 200 

A Princeton Companion, by Alexander Leitch 200 

Church Music and the Christian Faith, by Erik Roudey 200 

Our Own Hymnbook, by C. H. Spurgeon 202 

Henry Ward Beecher: Spokesman for Middle Class America, 
by C. E. Clark, Jr. 202 

Book Notes 204 


The Bulletin is published three times annually by the Theological Semi- 
nary of the United Presbyterian Church at Princeton, New Jersey 08540. 

Each issue is mailed free of charge to all alumni/ae and on an exchange 
basis with various institutions. 

The intention of the publishers is to channel out to the alumni/ae the 
printed texts of lectures, addresses, etc., given on campus and by the faculty 
on other campuses. The book reviews are considered to be useful for con- 
tinuing education. 

Readers are encouraged not to submit manuscripts for possible publication. 
Our volunteer editorial staff, comprising full time teaching faculty, cannot 
cope with the great quantities of unsolicited materials. 


Donald Macleod 
Review Committee 

David R. Adams Thomas W. Mann 

Elizabeth G. Edwards Daniel L. Migliore 

G. Robert Jacks John M. Mulder 

George W. Stroup 

All correspondence should be adressed to the Editor and accompanied by 
a self-addressed, stamped return envelope. 

J. Gresham Machen: 
Apologist and Exegete 

by Cullen I K Story 

F orty-one years ago the New Testa- 
ment scholar, }. Gresham Machen, 
passed on to his reward. His relation- 
ship to Princeton Seminary — first as 
student, then as instructor and assistant 
professor in New Testament — spanned 
roughly the first three decades of the 
twentieth century. Following his un- 
dergraduate work at Johns Hopkins 
University and his theological work at 
Princeton Seminary, in 1905-06 Machen 
took informal post-graduate work at 
Marburg (under A. Jiilicker and Wil- 
helm Hermann) and at Gottingen 
(under E. Schiirer and W. Bousset 
among others). He was a close friend 
of Francis L. Patton, president of 
Princeton Seminary (1902-1913), of 
Harris E. Kirk, pastor of the Franklin 
Street Church in Baltimore, and of his 
seminary colleagues, W. P. Armstrong 
and B. B. Warfield. In 1914, at the First 
Presbyterian Church of Plainsboro, 
New Jersey, he was ordained to the 
gospel ministry. Machen’s scholarly life 
at Princeton Seminary was significant 
but marred by turmoil and tension. 
Over the years he became convinced 
that Presbyterianism had drifted far 
from its biblical and confessional base. 
Conflicts with colleagues and church 
leaders developed and grew in intensity 
until in June of 1929, Machen resigned 
from his post of assistant professor at 
Princeton Seminary and organized 
Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. 

A native of Iowa, the Rev. Cullen I K 
Story is an alumnus of Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity (M.A.), Dallas T heological Seminary 
(Th.M.), and Princeton T heological Seminary 
(Ph.D.). After missionary wor\, both na- 
tional and overseas, including principal of the 
Near East School of Theology in Lebanon 
(1954-57), Dr. Story became an instructor 
at Princeton and since 1967 has been Director 
of the Language Program and associate pro- 
fessor in the Department of Biblical Studies. 

Furthermore, concerned over what he 
viewed as doctrinal disloyalty in the 
Board of Foreign Missions of the Pres- 
byterian church, in 1933 he took the 
initiative in the formation of an Inde- 
pendent Board of foreign missions. In 
1934 the General Assembly called on all 
Presbyterian members of the Independ- 
ent Board to sever their relationship 
with it. Machen refused. Accordingly, 
in 1935 at a trial in Trenton conducted 
by the presbytery of New Brunswick, 
Machen was suspended from the min- 
istry. In 1936 he became the first mod- 
erator of a new church, known today 
as The Orthodox Presbyterian Church. 
On January 1, 1937, at the age of fifty- 
six, Machen died of pneumonia in a 
Roman Catholic hospital in Bismarck, 
North Dakota. Such in brief was the 
life of one of the most outspoken Pres- 
byterian fundamentalists of the twen- 
tieth century. An appended bibliog- 
raphy will suggest source material on 
Machen’s life and influence. The article 
that follows aims to understand his 
writings and thereby to assess their 
apologetic 1 and exegetical 2 worth to the 
church and to the scholarly world. 

1 Definitions are needed. In the early cen- 
turies of the Christian church, an “apologist” 
was one who presented a reasonable defense 
of the Christian faith to the non-Christian 
world. As an example, in the middle of the 
second century, Justin Martyr addressed his 
First Apology to the Roman emperor and 
senate and to all the Roman people. His 



Machen’s works fall neatly into three 
chronological periods — the nineteen 

tens, the twenties and the thirties. 

(A) In the first period, Machen was 
a frequent contributor to the Princeton 
Theological Review ( PTR ). His book 
reviews, thirty-three in number, survey 
works on New Testament Greek gram- 
mar, commentaries on New Testament 
books, and works on other Biblical sub- 
jects. In addition to the reviews, Machen 
produced eight major articles. One 
article, “Christianity and Culture,” was 
an address given originally to the Pres- 
byterian Ministers’ Association of Phila- 
delphia (May 20, 1912). Later, with 
minor changes, the same address was 
delivered to the students and faculty of 
Princeton Seminary at the beginning 
of the second century of the Seminary’s 

Second Apology was directed simply to “Ro- 
mans,” while his Dialogue consists of an ex- 
tended conversauon with the Jew, Trypho. 
The early apologist, therefore, aimed to meet 
false charges made against Christianity and, 
at the same time, to set forth a clear account 
of Christian faith and life. But, by the late 
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the 
word “apologist” — joined now to the term 
“apologetics” — had become quite different 
in meaning. No longer did the words sug- 
gest ad hoc answers to pagan or Jewish out- 
siders who were opposed to the Christian 
faith. The outsiders were now considered to 
be within Christendom. Thus, in Machen 
and Warfield, apologetics came to mean a rea- 
sonable and comprehensive treatment of “all 
the elements which the Calvinists deemed 
vital to the Christian faith” (W. D. Living- 
stone, The Princeton Apologetic as Exempli- 
fied in the Wor\ of Benjamin B. Warfield 
and J. Gresham Machen: A Study in Ameri- 
can Theology, 1880-1930, unpublished disser- 
tation, Yale University, 1948). 

2 The terms “exegete” and “exegetical” 
mean today what they meant in the first cen- 
tury. They refer to interpretation or explana- 
tion (cf. Luke 24:35; Acts 15:12). Hence an 
exegete “leads out” of the Scriptures the 
meaning that is there. 

history. The address affirms that Chris- 
tians come to terms with culture by con- 
secrating the arts and sciences to the 
service of God. Christians cannot be 
indifferent to any area of culture, for 
either culture is false and must be ex- 
posed or it is to be made useful in 
advancing God’s kingdom. Another 
article, “History and Faith,” was 
Machen’s inaugural address as assistant 
professor of New Testament Literature 
and Exegesis at the Seminary. It is a 
frank and forthright defense of a super- 
natural Jesus whose divine and human 
natures are seen by Machen to be inex- 
tricably united in one person. Further- 
more, Machen affirms that Jesus’ mes- 
sianic consciousness is too deeply 
imbedded in the sources to be removed 
by any critical process. Only a Jesus who 
is keenly conscious of his mission can 
account for the origin of the Christian 
church. A third article, “Recent Criti- 
cism of the Book of Acts,” expresses 
Machen’s pleasure at the return of 
Harnack, Torrey, and other scholars to 
the conviction that Luke is the author 
of the Luke-Acts work. To Machen, the 
change signified a “return to tradition,” 
a fresh realization of the uniqueness of 
Christ and of the Christian movement. 
Five other essays by Machen on Jesus’ 
birth were incorporated later into a 
major monograph. Emerging from the 
eight essays is the clear direction of the 
writer’s works which were to appear. 

(B) The second period of Machen’s 
literary work was very productive and 
thus becomes important for an under- 
standing of his contribution as apologist 
and exegete. What follows is a critique 
of two of his three major scholarly 
works 3 and one of his more popular 

3 The third scholarly work — not treated 
here — is his New Testament Gree\ for Be- 



works, all of which appeared in the 
nineteen twenties. 

(i) Machen’s book on Paul, The 
Origin of Paul’s Religion, consists of 
the James Sprunt lectures delivered at 
Union Theological Seminary in Vir- 
ginia. The book builds a strong defense 
for the supernatural nature of Paul’s 
religion. The writer is an apologist — 
par excellence — as he steers the reader 
through a labyrinth of reconstructions 
of Paul and Paulinism. He critiques 
von Harnack’s claim that there were 
sharp differences between Paul and the 
original disciples. He questions Wrede’s 
conviction that Paul was influenced 
strongly by Jewish apocalyptic views 
and that Christ’s humanity, according 
to Paul, was something strange to Jesus. 
He opposes Bousset’s idea that Paulin- 
ism is a religion of redemption derived 
from pagan religion, not from the 
historical Jesus. * * * 4 Machen then presents 
a history of Paul’s life from his early 
years to the triumph of Gentile free- 
dom. There is a strong supernaturalism 
in Paul, says Machen, expressed in a 
simple yet significant axiom, i.e. the 
religion of Paul was based on what 
Christ had done for him and continued 
to do through him. There is in Paul 
no distinction between an historical 
Jesus and a heavenly Christ, no adop- 

ginners, a grammar that continues to be used 

in numerous colleges, universities, and semi- 

naries. Greek scholar as he was, if Machen 
were with us today, he would credit Prince- 
ton Seminary with at least one “plus item”: 
the Greek placement examination which he 
with W. P. Armstrong initiated at the Semi- 
nary, is still in operation. 

4 Machen’s prediction of the future impact 
of Bousset’s work was more prophetic than 
Machen realized, for, fifty-seven years after 
the first edition of the work in German 
(1913), the book was deemed worthy of 
translation into English (1970). 

tionist Christology by which Christ 
grew gradually into divinity, no \enosis 
by which he relinquished his higher 
nature so that his life and teaching on 
earth are matters of indifference. “He 
[Paul] regarded Christ as Lord and 
Master, and he identified that Christ 
fully with the Jesus who lived but a few 
years before” (p. 118). In essence, the 
book is both Machen’s answer to von 
Harnack, Wrede and Bousset, and also 
his own exegesis of Paulinism. 

But now we must ask, (a) How en- 
during is Machen’s apology? (b) How 
comprehensive and careful is his exe- 
gesis of Paulinism? 

The answer to the first question is 
quite positive; the relationship of Paul 
to Jesus, to Judaism (“normative” or 
apocalyptic), and to the pagan world, 
continues to occupy scholars today. R. 
Bultmann, for example, claims to find 
in Paul a gnostic substratum of the 
myth of the redeemed redeemer but, 
like Machen, he takes exception to 
Bousset’s conviction that Paul was be- 
holden to the myths of the pagan mys- 
tery cults. W. D. Davies senses that 
rabbinic Judaism and the special con- 
tribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls have 
done much to establish the Jewish back- 
ground of Paul’s writings. Like Machen 
but contrary to both Bousset and 
Wrede, J. Munck finds a firm historical 
base for Paul’s call in the conversion 
accounts in Acts. And, like Machen 
also, Munck affirms a strong and ami- 
cable relationship between Paul and the 
Jerusalem church. And though in a 
different vein from Wrede, Munck has 
stressed Wrede’s end-time emphasis in 
Paul’s theology, sensing that Paul him- 
self is an eschatological figure entrusted 
with an eschatological message. And 
finally, G. Bornkamm, unlike Machen, 
questions the book of Acts as an histori- 



cal source, and proceeds to reconstruct 
the apostle’s life and ministry from his 
letters alone. And yet Bornkamm, like 
Machen, compares favorably the body 
of ideas found in Paul with the teach- 
ing of Jesus. In brief, it can be said that 
the apology which Machen presented 
with consummate skill over fifty years 
ago, points to the live issues in Pauline 
scholarship today. 

But now for the second question: 
How careful in detail and comprehen- 
sive in scope is Machen's exegetical 
work? A positive answer appears 
doubtful. In the first place, Machen’s 
treatment of the three accounts in Acts 
of Paul’s conversion is quite meager, 
especially when compared, for example, 
with the careful and thorough treat- 
ment by J. Munck ( Paul and the Sal- 
vation of Mankind). Moreover, in his 
reaction to Wrede, Machen failed to 
take seriously possible background ma- 
terial for Pauline eschatology found in 
First Enoch and in The Testaments of 
the Twelve Patriarchs. At least, in all 
honesty, the question ought to be raised 
as to whether there were ways in which 
the Messiah of the Jewish apocalypses 
— modified, of course, by Paul’s knowl- 
edge of the exalted Christ through 
revelation and by his acquaintance with 
the historical Jesus through the dis- 
ciples — did affect Paul’s presentation of 
Christ. Furthermore, in his reaction to 
Bousset, Machen dismissed all too 
quickly Bousset’s exegesis of the Pauline 
terms “in Christ” or “in the Lord.” 
Actually, Bousset’s treatment of the 
terms is a mine of information (about 
eighteen pages long), distinguished 
not only bv a careful discussion of the 
texts in Paul — both their individual and 
corporate significance — but by a discus- 
sion of various close parallels in pagan 
literature. Again, in a section devoted 

to alleged parallels to the Christian 
sacraments found in the mystery re- 
ligions, while Machen reveals a close 
acquaintance with the sacramental hy- 
potheses of the history-of-religions- 
school of his day, he nonetheless fails to 
give a careful exposition of Pauline 
texts by which the same hypotheses may 
be answered. Finally, on the issue of 
Paul’s relationship to Jesus, Machen 
posed the easy question : Do the oc- 
casional references found in Paul’s 
writings to the kingdom of God present 
the same meaning which it has in Jesus’ 
teaching? But the hard question is: 
Why is there the strange shift in terms, 
i.e. from the “kingdom of God” (syn- 
optic gospels) to the “church” (Paul) ? 
The question calls for exegetical work 
which is missing from Machen’s mono- 

The pressing issue which Machen’s 
book leaves behind is simply this: Can 
a defense of the faith bypass the exposi- 
tion thereof without losing what is 
vital in the process? Is this what Caspar 
Wistar Hodge meant as he expressed 
his regret at the announcement of 
Machen’s election (not confirmed by 
the General Assembly) to the Stuart 
Professorship of Apologetics and Chris- 
tian Ethics at Princeton Seminary? “To 
‘open the Scripture,’ ” said Hodge, “to 
expound its truths, I consider the high- 
est of all tasks, and even of greater 
‘apologetic’ value in the long run than 
its ‘defense.’ ” 5 

(2) Machen’s popular book What Is 
Faith?, issued in 1925, is a collection of 
lectures and articles which appeared in 
earlier years. The work reads easily, 
proceeding from a discussion of the 
object of faith, God and Christ, to faith 

5 Quoted by Ned B. Stonehouse, /. Gresh- 
am Machen — A Biographical Memoir, p. 387. 



and its relation to human needs, faith 
seen in relation to the gospel and salva- 
tion, and finally, faith viewed in rela- 
tion to works and hope. 

Faith, says Machen, involves the ac- 
ceptance of propositions about God (pp. 
47ff). Therefore, faith is theistic, i.e. it 
is based on the knowledge of a God 
who created the world, who though 
immanent in the world is distinct from, 
and sovereign over, all that he has 
made. Knowledge of God as the basis 
of faith is attained in three ways — 
through the works of nature, through 
conscience, and peculiarly, through the 
Bible. Ultimately, faith stakes its claim 
on God’s act in Christ. Because sin is 
the great barrier between God and the 
individual, Christ’s redeeming work 
alone makes it possible for a sinful per- 
son to become a child of God. Christ 
must be seen first as Savior, then as 
example: first “trust in his redeeming 
blood,” then “try his works to do.” 

Faith, however, is not merely con- 
cerned with Christ as a sufficient Savior, 
but it focuses on individual needs, e.g., 
the consciousness of sin and human 
rebellion against God’s law. No purely 
intellectual approach to Christianity 
will satisfy. The moral uniqueness of 
Jesus and the miracle of his resurrection 
form the foundation of the Christian 
church. Neither the beauty nor idealism 
of Christianity nor the desire for com- 
panionship can compensate for a thor- 
ough-going conviction of human sin. 
Companionship with Jesus, for exam- 
ple, emerges out of a deep contrition 
(Luke 5:8). Only a new and powerful 
proclamation of the law can cause one 
to seek grace through faith. Faith saves 
us and this means that God saves us 
through his grace. To be justified sug- 
gests not a reward that is earned but a 
gift that is received. 

Moreover, says Machen, the begin- 
ning of the Christian life is not an 
achievement but an experience which is 
followed by a battle against sin. But 
how can the battle be won? In ourselves 
we are weak, says the author, and we 
will surely fail; we can and must de- 
pend wholly on the power of the Spirit. 

Such, in brief, is the essence of one 
of Machen’s more popular books. Its 
avowed aim is to reach the common 
professing Christian. Its strength lies 
in its simple and direct appeal. Machen’s 
style resembles the Stoic diatribe in that 
he anticipates the questions of his op- 
ponents and then proceeds to answer 
them in a clear and concise fashion. He 
offers propositions for faith to grasp. 
To exegete, says Machen, means to de- 
scribe the truth of the Bible in which 
faith finds its anchor. Precisely at this 
point, I think, we find the first basic 
methodological weakness of Machen’s 
approach. Exegesis does indeed mean 
to describe what is there. Exegesis is 
historically conditioned. Thus, for ex- 
ample, Pauline letters were occasioned 
by circumstances in time and place. 
Faith, however, means far more than 
to affirm propositions about what is 
there in the Bible. Paul’s essay on food 
offered to idols (1 Cor 8:1-11:1), for 
example, is directed to an historical 
situation at Corinth (A.D. 57) which 
no longer exists. The faithful exegete 
senses that Paul’s treatment has no 
immediate application or meaning for 
the church today. One may claim that 
Paul’s essay needs to be “updated” or 
“explicated,” or “applied” to a vast 
array of problems which arise in the 
contemporary church. To venture, how- 
ever, upon an exegetical “application” 
is quite different from an acceptance of 
propositional truth. A more difficult 
hermeneutical problem faces us in that 



the early apostolic church (and, for that 
matter, the early church in America) 
gave passive assent to slavery. On the 
credit side, the Ephesian and Colossian 
letters (Eph 6:5-9; Col 3:22-4:1) imply 
that the gospel brings with it an amel- 
ioration of the condition of slaves, 
while a few texts affirm that the new 
life in Christ breaks down rigid social 
barriers (e.g. Gal 3:26-29; Philem 16). 
And yet, apparently, Paul did not urge 
the freedom of slaves (1 Cor 7:21-22); 
Ignatius of Antioch, ca. A.D. 107, cer- 
tainly did not (Ign to Polycarp 4:3). 
Thus to claim with Machen that faith 
gives assent to propositions about what 
is there in the Bible is hardly a viable 
position. This does not mean that exe- 
gesis is concerned with only a part of 
the Bible, for the entire Bible comes 
down to us as the living word of God. 
In interpreting Scripture, says Schlatter, 
“We are confronted not only with the 
past but also with the present, not only 
with what happened inside other people 
but also with what is happening inside 
ourselves.” 6 Preeminently the church 
needs to give heed to its history, to 
hearken to the past, to yield itself to the 
givenness of its heritage, since it is 
through its heritage that the church is 
formed and re-formed today. On the 
other hand, exegesis will surely go awry 
if it is solely concerned with connec- 
tions between past and present. To do 
this, says Schlatter, means that we will 
observe the past only so long as our 
own issues and interest coincide with 
the object. That would mean that our 
perception would be “directed exclu- 
sively towards what we can at once 
make our own.” 7 

6 “The Nature of New Testament Theol- 
ogy,” Studies in Biblical Theology, vol. 25, 
p. 1 18. 

7 Ibid., p. 127. 

Faith means, for example, that we can 
yield ourselves to the letter of faith 
(Galatians) in its own given situation. 
Our concern in the letter is surely not 
with the locale of the churches — 
whether in north Galatia or in the 
south — but with the nature of the teach- 
ing which threatened to undo the work 
which Paul had started. As we listen to 
the letter directed to the first century 
churches in Galatia, we are driven on 
in history to the meaning which it had 
in the early sixteenth century, and fi- 
nally, to our own desperate need for 
the letter in the twentieth century. For, 
quite appropriately, we bring our own 
situation and our own need today to 
the letter in order to listen to its mes- 
sage. In the first century, the letter pro- 
claimed a standing before God through 
faith alone apart from the Jewish law. 
In the sixteenth century, with his watch- 
word sola fide , Luther exegeted Gala- 
tians to a people weighed down with 
laws imposed upon them by their reli- 
gious leaders. In the twentieth century, 
faith in terms of the Galatian letter is 
to be proclaimed not to a church that is 
burdened by the Jewish law nor by its 
own laws, but to a church that all too 
easily professes its faith in the gospel 
only to insulate itself from involvement 
in a genuine gospel ministry to the 
spiritual and social needs of society. 
How often is the church today embar- 
rassed as it witnesses society wrestling 
with problems of human rights and 
justice that the church ought to have 
ministered to long before. Moreover, 
faith in terms of the Galatian letter 
meets a church today whose confidence 
in its own institutional life particularly, 
as well as in government and in the 
political process generally, has been 
severely shaken. “If the foundations are 
destroyed, what has a righteous one ac- 



complished?” (the literal Hebrew of 
Psalm 11:3). The temptation will be 
for the church to succumb to a gospel 
tailored to the individual alone, evidenc- 
ing little or no social concern — a mes- 
sage of morality and self-reliance show- 
ing little or no concept of service in 
and through the body of Christ. In the 
face of this temptation, the message of 
Galatians for today — “by faith alone” — 
can peal forth with a clear sound, even 
clearer perhaps than when it first went 
forth to the Galatian churches. In brief, 
the expositor of faith can make no 
quick and easy transition from the first 
century to the twentieth. Inevitably, one 
must ask how the reality of the past is 
related to the givenness of the present, 
a question which I feel Machen neither 
asked nor answered in his monograph 
on faith. 

And, if Machen errs on the side of 
propositional exegesis, there is another 
methodological weakness in his ap- 
proach, i.e. a narrowness of interest. 
The point becomes clear as his essay is 
compared to a work of his contempo- 
rary, A. Schlatter, 8 a work available to 
Machen. Schlatter’s book embraces the 
entire New Testament witness, show- 
ing an exegetical concern for the con- 
tribution of each part to the meaning 
of faith. At the close he includes studies 
of the word “faith” itself — a herald of 
The Theological Dictionary of the New 
Testament , which very work was dedi- 
cated to Schlatter. Accordingly, the 
question, “What is faith?” needs to 
face important exegetical issues such 
as: the relation of faith to repentance 
(the synoptics), faith as both a decisive 
and growing commitment (the Fourth 
Gospel), faith as both a standing before 
God and a style of life (the letters) in- 

8 Der Glaube im Neuen Testament, Zweite 
Bearbeitung, 1896. 

eluding the significant “gift of faith” 
to some — not to all — in the church (1 
Cor 12:9), the exploits of faith (He- 
brews), and the new emphasis in the 
Pastorals on the deposit of faith. 
Machen’s main exegetical issue in his 
popular exposition of faith is to rec- 
oncile the assumed conflict between 
Paul and James — quite a minor item 
when compared to the basic New Testa- 
ment concerns. Thus, notwithstanding 
Machen’s strong apologetic fervor and 
total commitment to the Biblical wit- 
ness, one senses that his book What Is 
Faith? is lacking in exegetical depth. 

(3) Machen’s monograph, The Vir- 
gin Birth of Christ ( VBC ), appeared 
shortly after the organization of West- 
minster Seminary. As hinted at earlier, 
the work is an expansion of five sepa- 
rate articles by Machen that appeared 
in the Princeton Theological Review. 
The substance of the book was delivered 
to students at Columbia Theological 
Seminary in Decatur, Georgia as the 
Thomas Smyth Lectures (spring of 
1927). 9 

VBC is a very thorough work, wide- 
ranging in scope and careful in detail, 
a work which the author himself called 
his opus magnum. Machen is firmly 
committed to the virgin birth as a tenet 
of faith, yet he attempts to be open to 
opposing views and to treat opponents 
with fairness and honesty. Strangely 
enough, he first discusses belief in the 
virgin birth in the second Christian 
century. The opening chapter is, in es- 
sence, a reproduction of his article in 
PTR X (1912), pp. 529-580. Machen 
is adept in his treatment of the early 
fathers. Texts in the letters of Ignatius, 

9 The book itself was not actually published 
until 1930. It rightly belongs, however, to 
the second period of Machen’s literary ac- 



Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho, Ori- 
gen’s treatise Against Celsus, and Je- 
rome’s Commentary on Matthew are 
discussed in detail, showing that belief 
of the church in the virgin birth ex- 
tends back into the early years of the 
second century, and that denials of the 
virgin birth are based much more prob- 
ably on dogmatic presuppositions than 
on genuine historical tradition. In the 
central part of his work, Machen gives 
primary attention to the hymns in Luke 
1-2 ( VBC , chapters 2-6). He concludes 
that the hymns are no artificial produc- 
tion of the Gentile Luke, but are actual- 
ly to be traced back to Zacharias and 
Mary, their original composition being 
in Hebrew or Aramaic. Such a conclu- 
sion, says Machen, explains the Old 
Testament spirit and color and the He- 
brew parallelism of strophes such as 
the hymns reveal. 

A minor section in VBC is devoted 
to Matthew’s birth narrative (chapter 7 
of VBC), followed by a consideration 
of the relation of the nativity accounts 
to each other, to secular history, and to 
the rest of the New Testament (VBC, 
chapters 8-1 1). Finally, the writer con- 
siders alternative theories about Jesus’ 
birth (chapters 12-14). A conclusion 
follows (chapter 15). 

That VBC is a meticulous work is 
seen clearly in the way Machen handles 
patristic evidence, in his textual com- 
mentary on Luke 1-2, and in his discus- 
sion of textual problems (e.g. Luke 
2:22, “their cleansing,” VBC, pp. 70- 
74; Luke 2:5, “Mary his betrothed,” 
VBC, pp. 123-126; the variant readings 
of Matt 1:16, VBC, pp. 176-187). Sim- 
ilar care is shown in his treatment of 
interpolation theories, which he finds 
void of any textual basis (e.g. Luke 
1 :34'35, VBC, chapter VI). Throughout 
his work, Machen is the apologist, acute- 

ly conscious of the serious questions 
which scholars of his day and earlier 
have raised over the credibility of the 
virgin birth. As apologist, Machen is 
effective. It is doubtful, for example, if 
Boslooper in his recent work 10 has add- 
ed any new support to the mythical 
view of Jesus’ birth which Machen so 
carefully weighed and found wanting. 
Still the question needs to be raised as 
to whether Machen, the apologist for 
the virgin birth, is also the exegete 
thereof. His painstaking research lays 
bare the facts, but does he exegete its 
meaning? What place, for example, 
does the virgin birth occupy in the 
Luke- Acts volumes? The answer to the 
last question must surely take account 
of the prefaces to Luke (1:1-4) and to 
Acts (1:1-5). Machen has only a short 
note on Acts 1, and his few brief ref- 
erences to the preface of Luke have to 
do only with its skillful literary com- 
position and with its style and struc- 
ture in contrast with the birth and in- 
fancy narrative which follows. The 
theological importance of the Lukan 
preface, however, can hardly be over- 
estimated. Luke alludes to “the events 
which have been brought to full frui- 
tion among us.” The perfect tense com- 
bines with the passive voice (i.e. “have 
been brought to full fruition”) to indi- 
cate that God is at work on the scene 
of human history to bring to fulfil- 
ment events of eternal worth. 11 The 
“events” are the births of John and of 
Jesus, the ministry of Jesus (Luke 
4:i6ff), his death and resurrection 
(Luke 24:25-27, 44, 46-47), and the com- 
ing of the Holy Spirit and the forma- 

10 Thomas Boslooper, The Virgin Birth 
(Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962). 

11 See, e.g., O. A. Piper, “The Purpose of 
Luke,” Union Seminary Review 57 (Nov. 
1945), p. 16. 



tion of a new people of God (Acts 2). 
The fact that at the beginning of 
Luke’s gospel, God acts in a very mirac- 
ulous way not merely in one birth but 
in two, points the way to an under- 
standing of the gospel. 12 That is to say, 
the work of the Holy Spirit in the 
births of John and Jesus was prepara- 
tory not merely to the Spirit’s work in 
Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:17-21) but to 
the gift of the same Spirit from the 
risen Lord, making possible another 
miraculous birth — the birth of the 
church (Acts 2). 13 

As for Machen’s brief chapter on 
“The Narrative in Matthew,” over half 
of the space is devoted to a discussion 
of the text of Matt 1:16 with only minor 
attention given to the genealogy of 
1 :i-i6 and even less to the content of 
Matt 2. The brief attention which 
Machen does give to Matt 1:1-16 aims 
merely to harmonize the genealogical 
table of Matthew with the table of 
Luke, a task that fairly bristles with 
problems which I doubt if Machen has 
solved. Once again, it is the meaning 
of Matthew’s account that Machen 
overlooks. For example, why does Mat- 
thew “rearrange” his genealogy into 
three equal divisions? Is it to indicate 
that Jesus’ birth was not by chance but 
integral to the divine plan, or is it to 
show that it has some connection with 
Jewish apocalyptic thinking concerning 
events inscribed beforehand in the 
heavenly books? 14 Or does the geneal- 
ogy suggest the faithfulness of God to- 
ward his people through thick and thin, 
both when they are strong under David 
as well as when they are wrenched 

12 Cf. ibid., p. 20. 

13 Cf. J. Danielou, The Infancy Narratives , 
trans. R. Sheed (New York: Herder and 
Herder, 1968), p. 70. 

14 Ibid., p. 15. 

from their homeland to become helpless 
exiles in Babylon, destined later to be- 
come exploited subjects of a cruel Edom- 
ite king, i.e. Herod? In addition, the 
strange purpose in Matthew’s inclusion 
of four women in his genealogy, three 
of whom are immoral and one a for- 
eigner from Moab, calls for explana- 
tion. Is the presence of the women a 
harbinger of God’s grace (cf. the early 
patristic explanation) ? or does their 
presence in the genealogy emphasize 
the fact that God’s plan will be fulfilled 
whatever happens? 15 Or are they men- 
tioned by way of contrast to that other 
woman in Matthew 1, the one highly 
favored of God, the virgin Mary? 
Again, one may ask, do the opening 
and closing verses of the genealogical 
table (Matt 1:1, 16) indicate that, for 
the writer, Jesus Christ is both the 
alpha and omega of Jewish history? 
And, similar to the opening verses of 
John’s gospel on the incarnation (John 
1:1, 14; cf. Gen 1:1), does Matthew 
show in his opening verses (Matt 1 :i, 
16, 18, 20) that the birth of Jesus 
through the virgin Mary means essen- 
tially the beginning of a new humanity 
engendered by the Holy Spirit, as 
Danielou suggests? 16 Danielou’s sug- 
gestion needs to be taken seriously as 
the Greek text of Matt 1 :i is compared 
with the LXX of Gen 2:4 and 5:1. One 
should also compare the work of the 
Holy Spirit according to both Gen 1 :2 
and Matt 1:18, 20. And, there is still 
another question that the exegete of 
Matthew’s account of the virgin birth 
must face, i.e. how are we to interpret 
Matthew’s amazing selection of Old 
Testament texts, all of which find their 
fulfillment — according to Matthew — in 

15 Ibid., p. 17. 

16 Ibid., p. 12k 



Jesus’ birth? If exegesis is concerned 
with context — and it is — Machen’s 
scholarly monograph on the virgin 
birth leaves much to be desired. 

(C) The third period of Machen’s 
literary work — the thirties — marks the 
twilight of his life. Quite obviously, the 
formation and operation of Westmin- 
ster Seminary as well as continued con- 
troversy with the Presbyterian church 
occupied Machen’s time and sapped his 
energy. Added to these problems were 
the internal divisions that arose in both 
the Independent Board and the new 
Seminary. Understandably, Stonehouse 
has written, “It is hardly a wonder that 
Machen was virtually crushed under 
the burden of the anxieties and labors 
that were present day and night during 
the last months of his life.” 17 Under- 
standably, also, Machen’s literary activ- 
ity in the thirties subsided. Apart from 
articles in The Presbyterian Guardian , 
a church paper which Machen person- 
ally launched in October of 1935, his 
literary work is largely confined to two 
volumes containing addresses given 
originally during 1935-36 over radio 
station WIP in Philadelphia. The two 
volumes are The Christian Faith in the 
Modern World and The Christian 
View of Man. A critique of the former 
volume follows. 

The Christian Faith in the Modern 
World is a series of essays on Christian 
doctrine. Machen begins with the ques- 
tion, “How may God be known?” — 
a question which takes him to the most 
important revelation of God, i.e. the 
Bible. From the Bible the author pro- 
ceeds to discuss God the creator, the 
triune God, the deity of Christ, Jesus’ 
testimony to himself, his resurrection, 
and Paul’s witness to him, concluding 

17 Stonehouse, p. 505. 

with a final chapter on the Holy Spirit. 
The essays thereby show a distinct 
unity. The writer attempts to speak to 
ordinary people enmeshed in the crises 
of the mid-thirties — tyranny in Russia, 
the arms race in Germany and Italy, 
and the threat to civil and religious lib- 
erty which Machen sensed existing in 
the United States. It is clear, however, 
that the “crises” which Machen men- 
tions in his introduction play little if 
any part in his doctrinal treatment. 
What then does Machen say in the 
closing years of his life, and, once again, 
how are we to evaluate his role as apol- 
ogist and exegete of the Christian faith? 

He claims quite forthrightly that 
Christian faith in the Bible, in God, 
and in Christ stands firm amid the 
onslaught of unbelief. The Bible is 
verbally inspired; God the creator is 
revealed to us in three persons; Jesus 
is the Son of God, the Lord, and hence 
the object of faith; and the witness of 
the gospels to the supernatural Christ 
is corroborated by the testimony of the 
apostle Paul. Echoes of Machen’s liter- 
ary activity of the nineteen twenties 
meet the reader of each essay on every 
page. Machen presents the Christian 
faith simply and categorically in order 
to show that Christian convictions are 
essential to Christian living. It makes 
a great deal of difference, he says, what 
a person believes. To illustrate, he ap- 
peals to Paul Bourget’s novel, The 
Disciple. Bourget describes the peace- 
ful routine life of an inoffensive philos- 
opher who “wouldn’t hurt a fly,” who 
welcomes students and scholars to his 
humble domicile several times a week 
for instruction. The philosopher’s quiet 
life, however, is unexpectedly shattered. 
He is summoned to a criminal inquest 
at which one of his former pupils, a 
brilliant and enthusiastic disciple, is 



accused of murder. Now in prison, the 
disciple writes an autobiography for his 
master to see, a tragic story of how the 
liberating doctrines of the philosopher’s 
teaching culminated in the awesome 
crime which the disciple committed. So 
it is, said Machen, with the doctrines of 
Modernism and Liberalism. They have 
their own tragic issues in both public 
and private life in that civil and reli- 
gious liberty are now threatened. “This 
notion that doctrine is unimportant and 
that life comes first, is one of the most 
devilish errors that are to be found in 
the whole of Satan’s arsenal” (p. 97). 
Throughout the volume Machen con- 
centrates on Christian doctrine with, at 
best, a minor emphasis on Christian 

Now, however, I raise the question as 
to whether Machen has produced any- 
thing more than a bare skeleton of 
Christian doctrine which needs the flesh 
and blood of exegesis. Machen empha- 
sizes historical facticity but the New 
Testament reveals the twin emphases 
of the historical Jesus and the dynamic 
of the Spirit. That is to say, facts will 
remain sterile and inert unless some- 
how they are interrelated and inter- 
preted by the Holy Spirit. Machen’s 
treatment tends to be little more than 
an expanded Apostles’ Creed, and he is 
often pessimistic as to whether his 
hearers and readers can truthfully con- 
fess their faith in the creed. “I want 
not only to clear away misconceptions 
from your minds, as to what we be- 
lieve, but I want to win some of you” 
(p. 36). “You say . . . how could God 
determine the very words that these 
men wrote . . . ? Well, my friend, I 
will tell you how” (pp. 53^) . “When 
you say that the Bible is a true guide in 
religion, but that you do not care 
whether it is a true guide when it deals 

with history or with science, I should 
just like to ask you one question” (p. 
55). “Well, my friend, you have turned 
to the Sermon on the Mount. I did not 
choose it. You chose it. It is your fav- 
orite passage . . . All right, then; we 
are going to . . . examine the Sermon on 
the Mount for ourselves. What happens 
to us when we do that? I will tell you 
very plainly” (p. 162). “You say, my 
friend, that you have never seen a man 
who rose from the dead . . . ? Quite 
right. Neither have I . . . But what of 
it?” (p. 214). 

The above quotations are merely a 
sampling of Machen’s characteristic 
rhetorical method. If society and the 
church in society were sick unto death 
— and for Machen they were — one is 
inclined to ask somewhat whimsically 
whether Machen’s “bedside manner” 
could in any way effect an improve- 
ment in the patient’s condition. 

But beyond the skeletal nature of the 
book and its “chip-on-the-shoulder” 
style, what troubles me most is Machen’s 
lack of complete candor in explaining 
the doctrines he has chosen to treat. 
Lack of candor — what a strange thing 
to say about Machen! But I mention 
two emphases by way of example. First, 
with regard to Jesus’ resurrection, 
Machen is quite insistent that the resur- 
rection appearances occurred initially 
not in Galilee but in Jerusalem. That 
is to say, he takes his stance in the 
primitive Jerusalem tradition held by 
Paul (cf. also John and Luke), but he 
fails to consider the Galilean tradition 
found in Mark and Matthew. The 
point at issue is not the resurrection 
per si f, nor even the clear witness given 
in the New Testament to appearances 
of the risen Jesus. The issue is that for 
Machen to argue vigorously in support 
of Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor 15 and to 



fail to take seriously Mark 16 and Matt. 
28, is to be less than honest with the 
sources and to leave the thoughtful 
reader with disturbing questions con- 
cerning the consistency of the Biblical 
material. A second emphasis pertains to 
Machen’s treatment of the source criti- 
cism of the gospels. It is doubtful if 
Machen ever came to terms with the 
synoptic research of his day. In his ear- 
lier writings as well as in the radio es- 
says, the reader encounters the phrase, 
“the sources supposed rightly or wrong- 
ly to underlie the Synoptic Gospels.” 
One might expect Machen to define 
“rightly or wrongly” and to bring the 
synoptic problem into focus. Let us as- 
sume that he did deal with this prob- 
lem in his teaching at Princeton and 
Westminster; but neither his scholarly 
nor his popular works reveal that he 
even tried to resolve the problem. In- 
stead, he actually affirms that the famous 
“two-document” theory has become the 
basis for the account of a purely hu- 
man Jesus who worked no miracles but 
simply taught by life and word the 
Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of 
man. Machen thereby reduced source- 
criticism to a straw man and failed to 
deal openly and honestly with serious 
research. To claim that the gospel of 
Mark and an unknown document “Q” 
are the two main sources that lie be- 
hind the first three gospels, in no way 
of itself marks a liberal approach to the 
gospels. It reveals rather an effort to 
understand the obvious relationships 
that exist between the three accounts. 
Evangelicals (belatedly) as well as lib- 
erals have accepted literary criticism as 
both a helpful and an indispensable tool 
for an understanding of the Synoptics. 
Machen knew this. He appreciated, for 
example, the evangelical position of 
James Denney; and yet Denney was 

firm in his support of the two-document 
theory. 18 Briefly, Christian Faith in the 
Modern World impresses me as the 
work of a tired, harassed man, strong 
in a simplistic defensive posture, but 
weak in exegetical prowess. 

Conclusion. The above critique of 
Machen’s literary works lays no claim 
to completeness. 19 It deals not with 
Machen’s personal, academic, or eccle- 
siastical life 20 but with what he wrote. 
Yet, I have been impressed by two de- 

18 See, e.g. J. Denney, Jesus and the Gospel 
— Christianity justified in the mind of Christ 
(New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 
1909), pp. 156-177; and cf. Christian Faith in 
the Modern World, p. 155. 

19 It is doubtful, however, whether a con- 
sideration of Machen’s other popular works 
will alter the basic criuque given in this 
essay. Compare Machen’s Christianity and 
Liberalism (New York: Macmillan, 1923); 
The Christian View of Man (New York: 
Macmillan, 1937), God Transcendent and 
other Selected Sermons, ed. Ned Stonehouse 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), and What 
is Christianity? And Other Addresses, ed. 
Ned Stonehouse (1951). To complete this 
survey, two final popular productions of 
Machen should be mentioned; (1) Sunday 
School lessons which Machen wrote for the 
Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sab- 
bath School Work. Originally published in 
1916, the lessons have been recently edited 
and re-issued under the title, The New Testa- 
ment, An Introduction to its Literature and 
History, ed. W. John Cook (Glasgow: R. 
MacLehose & Co. Ltd., 1976). (2) Expository 
notes on Galatians 1:1-3:14 which appeared 
originally in the early Christianity Today 
(from Jan. 1931 to Feb. 1933) but which 
were edited and published in 1977 by John 
H. Skilton under the title, Machen’s Notes 
on Galatians (Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and 
Reformed Publishing Co.). The notes em- 
phasize historical exegesis and suggest that 
the apostasy in the Galatian churches is re- 
flected — so says Machen — in the apostasy in 
the Presbyterian church. 

20 1 refer the reader to C. Allyn Russell’s 
penetrating article, “J- Gresham Machen, 
Scholarly Fundamentalist” in The Journal of 
Presbyterian History 51 (1973), 40-69. 



scriptions of his life which Ned Stone- 
house has given. At the beginning of his 
biography, Stonehouse emphasizes 
Machen’s forthright courage, describing 
him as Mr. Valiant-for-Truth (from 
Pilgrim’s Progress). Later, however, the 
biographer reflects quite honestly on 
the reason why outstanding men such 
as Craig, Allis, and Macartney parted 
company with Machen in the closing 
years of his life. The reason, says Stone- 
house, was Machen’s bent to precipitous 
action — a failure to communicate with 
his colleagues, thereby allowing them to 
share fully in his convictions and hence 
possibly to influence or change his pur- 
pose or plan of action. Stonehouse’s 
observations are helpful in bringing 
this critique to a close. Machen’s schol- 
arly works, The Origin of Paul’s Reli- 
gion and The Virgin Birth of Christ , 
reveal a writer who is “Mr. Valiant-for- 
Truth.” Machen is the apologist who 
marshals his arguments carefully as he 
contends vigorously that Paul’s religion 
is indeed based on a supernatural Christ 
and that this Christ was indeed born of 
the virgin Mary. Machen is an apologist 
and a courageous one at that. And for 
this very reason I am drawn to him. 
Yet I am drawn only partway, for, to 
defend the faith does not inevitably 
mean to interpret the faith. Stonehouse 
writes that Machen was an exegete and 
that in his classroom the letter to the 
Galatians, for example, became “alive 
and relevant.” 21 But this is precisely 

what I do not see in Machen’s extant 
works, and thus I feel short-changed. 
Allyn Russell claims that Machen was 
more successful as an apologist than as 
an ecclesiastical politician. To this claim 
I would add that he was more success- 
ful as an apologist than as an exegete. 
For what Stonehouse has said about 
Machen’s lack of a close relationship 
with trusted colleagues may be said 
about his literary relationship with his 
readers. In order for his readers — stu- 
dent and scholar alike — to share fully 
in his faith in the Scriptures, Machen 
needed to communicate with them by 
interpreting those Scriptures to them 
through the scholarly acumen and 
Christian devotion with which he was 
so admirably equipped. 


Ned B. Stonehouse, /. Gresham 
Machen A Biographical Memoir 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publish- 
ing Company, 1954). 

C. Allyn Russell, “J. Gresham Machen, 
Scholarly Fundamentalist,” The Jour- 
nal of Presbyterian History, 51 (1973), 

W. D. Livingstone, The Princeton 
Apologetic as Exemplified in the 
Wor\ of Benjamin B. Warfield and 
J. Gresham Machen : A Study in 
American Theology, 1880-1930, un- 
published dissertation, Yale Univer- 
sity, 1948. 

21 Stonehouse, p. 171. 

T-V/=*a h i n cr qq Pnnflnpnrp A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., the Rev. Con- 

rreaciling as \^OnilUCllCC ra j yj Massa was called to Princeton in the 

autumn of igy8 as Director of Field Educa- 
by CoNRAD H. Massa tion, Professor of Preaching and Worship, 

and Dean-elect. An alumnus of Columbia 
University (A.B.), Princeton Theological 
Seminary (M.Div., Th.M., and Ph.D.), Dr. 
Massa has served churches in East Orange 
and Newark N.f., and Rochester, N.Y., where 
for twelve years he was minister of the Third 
Presbyterian Church. 

Inaugural Address, December 6, 1978 

G eorge Pepper, in his Lyman Beech- 
er Lectures, said, “To essay lectures 
upon preaching is an act of courage. To 
believe that God may find use for them 
is an act of faith.” 1 An Inaugural Lec- 
ture provides the opportunity for one 
to identify some basic concerns in the 
field of inquiry and also to reflect criti- 
cally on certain present practices. This 
effort to do such may demonstrate more 
courage and faith than wisdom for, 
after all, what is there to be said about 
a subject in which everyone present is 
an expert? Everyone knows what 
preaching is — or at least what it ought 
to be. The trouble is that when we test 
that assumption, it soon becomes clear 
that preaching is like pornography in 
that while no one can define it satis- 
factorily to others, everyone knows it 
when he or she hears it! 

Clergy who are not parish ministers 
may have very clear theoretical under- 
standings of preaching which are usual- 
ly related in terms of their own profes- 
sional specialties. Parish ministers sus- 
pect that this certainty is the result of 
what Mordecai Kaplan once called in 
another context “the immaculate con- 
ception of thought not sired by experi- 
ence.” Parish ministers confess a con- 
fusion about the place of preaching in 

1 A Voice From The Crowd , New Haven: 
Yale University Press, 1915, p. 30. 

the context of their whole ministry. 
The difficulties of the preaching task 
and the uncertainties about why they 
have to do it weekly combine to make 
a heavy burden out of what is some- 
times called the freedom of the pulpit. 
Strange freedom this necessity! 

Any serious consideration of preach- 
ing needs to deal with three funda- 
mental questions: 

Why do we preach ? What is the 
impetus for it? 

What is preaching? What is the 
purpose of it ? 

How do we do it ? 

The main part of this lecture will be 
given to the second question, What is 
preaching? Before we come to that, 
however, we will say something in re- 
gard to each of the others. 

The question of how we do preach- 
ing includes the matters of biblical 
exegesis, theological reflection, logical 
development of ideas, and effective ex- 
pression of thoughts both written and 
oral. These matters are inevitably re- 
lated to, and the outgrowth of, why we 
do preaching and what we understand 
preaching to be. The “how to” ques- 
tions are exceedingly important because 
they lead to the ultimate fruition of 
preaching without which it remains 
mere theory. They are the flesh and 



blood of our answers to the other ques- 
tions. A responsible theological school 
which seeks to equip men and women 
for the pastorate must provide for the 
teaching of “how to preach” because 
preaching remains the most regularly 
performed public act of ministry. 

The “how to” questions have trou- 
bled clergy for many centuries as just 
one illustration plucked from the his- 
tory of the subject will illustrate. A 
study of Franciscan preaching 2 reveals 
that between the years 1226 and 1536 
there were 200 Franciscans who pro- 
duced 345 works in homiletics. Of these, 
129 were printed in 535 editions com- 
prising 363,535 copies. One of the most 
popular was that of John of Werden 
(d. 1437) who called his book, Dormi 
Secure or “Sleep Without Care.” The 
sub-title reads, “Sermons for Saints’ 
Days throughout the year, very notable 
and useful to all priests, prelates, and 
chaplains . . . seeing that they can 
easily be incorporated without great 
study and preached to the people.” 3 
The work is reported to have gone 
through eighty-nine editions in less 
than a century. Concerns about how to 
do preaching are obviously not of recent 
origin. A theological seminary has the 
obligation to teach its students how to 
do their preparation responsibly. 

The question, “ Why do we preach? 
draws us inexorably into our under- 
standing of the church and its ministry. 
What kind of church are we? Are we 

2 Anscar Zawart, “The History of Francis- 
can Preaching and of Franciscan Preachers 
(1209-1927): A Bio-bibliographical Study,” in 
the Franciscan Educational Conference, Re- 
port of the Ninth Annual Meeting, vol. IX, 
no. 9 (September, 1927), pp. 374-375. 

3 Life in the Middle Ages, Selected, trans- 
lated and annotated by G. G. Coulton, vol. I, 
Cambridge: At the University Press, 1928, 
p. 232. 

a church focused on a liturgical celebra- 
tion of the mystery of the Incarnation? 
Are we a church focused on mediating 
between God and humankind in the 
drama of the Mass ? Or are we a church 
focused on God’s self-proclaimed revela- 
tion in his living Word ? Are we a pro- 
claiming church? But more, are we 
convinced that the verbal articulation 
of the Gospel is of the essence of the 
church and not merely a useful accom- 
paniment to the doing of the Gospel? 

This question has been the major 
theological issue in the life of the 
United Presbyterian Church — and some 
others as well — for the past two dec- 
ades. Preaching has tended to be re- 
duced to a rationalization for what 
we thought the church ought to be 
doing in the world. We have surren- 
dered our identity as a proclaiming 
church in order to be a demonstrating 
church. We expressed our apprehension 
about the self-authenticating Word and 
replaced it with the supposedly self- 
authenticating Deed. We were sur- 
prised when those within our congrega- 
tions, to say nothing of those without, 
did not perceive the Deed to be self- 
authenticating. Congregations sensed 
that something essential had been lost 
and lines were drawn between those 
who believed in evangelism and those 
who believed in social action, between 
“meddling in politics” and “preaching 
the Gospel.” The distinctions were, of 
course, crude simplifications by which 
each side tried to justify its own em- 

My own career of almost twenty-five 
years in the ministry includes ample 
testimony to my involvement in some 
of the most controversial issues of the 
times. What I say here is not to depreci- 
ate the demonstrating church which 
lives out the Gospel. This is not to 



justify a false dichotomy but to identify 
developments. We cannot answer the 
question why we preach unless we are 
willing to confront the issue whether 
or not we believe the verbal articula- 
tion of the Gospel is of the essence of 
our nature as a proclaiming church. 
How shall we exegete Paul’s question: 
“How are they to believe in him of 
whom they have never heard ? And 
how are they to hear without a preach- 
er?” (Romans 10:14) 

This raises parallel considerations for 
the ministry of the church. I cannot 
remember when I last heard a candi- 
date, who was to come under the care 
of a Presbytery of the United Presby- 
terian Church, say that he or she felt 
called to preach the Gospel. In this day 
it seems we are called simply “to min- 
ister.” We are ordained to what is 
termed the “professional ministry” and 
the variety of responsibilities for which 
Presbyteries willingly ordain persons is, 
to me, staggering. I refrain from ex- 
amples at this point because I already 
have more enemies than I need! While 
the Book of Order still identifies those 
who are “ministers of the Word” in 
some places, our constitutional status is 
that of “Continuing members of the 
Presbytery.” My wife has a more ex- 
pressive relationship than that; she is 
an honorary lifetime member of the 

What does it mean to be called to be 
a minister of the Gospel? If ordination 
is simply the recognition that one is to 
perform a function within the church, 
then let us ordain to whatever functions 
we will, but let us restrict the ministry 
of that person to the function for which 
he or she has been ordained. Let us 
stop the depreciation of the concept 
“Minister of the Word” which we 
bring about when we called every func- 

tionary a preacher! Involved in any an- 
swer to the question, Why do we 
preach ? must be some concept that one 
feels called to preach; or else we will 
continue to have a stream of technicians 
who know the mechanics of the job but 
who do not have the creative urge to 
make it what it must be. How shall 
we exegete Paul’s question: “How can 
they preach unless they are sent?” (Ro- 
mans 10:15) and his own affirmation: 
“For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to 
me if I do not preach the Gospel ... I 
am entrusted with a commission.” (I 
Corinthians 9:16-17) Our understand- 
ing of the church and its ministry is 
crucial to our understanding of why we 

We turn now to the question, What 
is preaching? The question is decep- 
tively simple, but it has been the con- 
cern of Christian thinking about preach- 
ing since at least the third century. 
Here we must review some of the early 
history of preaching. There was, of 
course, the exposition-exhortation to the 
assemblies of the faithful, usually in the 
context of the breaking of bread. There 
was also the proclamation of the good 
news of Jesus Christ in the synagogues 
and marketplaces. It was at that point 
in the history of the church when 
Christians worshipped openly so that 
non-believers could be part of the con- 
gregation, and when the church relaxed 
the stringent requirements for long 
catechumenate periods, that the preach- 
er faced the perplexing task of being 
both a missionary (in the form of an 
apologist) and a teacher and exhorter at 
the same time. It was then that a dis- 
tinction grew between form and con- 
tent — a distinction which has set the 
terms of the discussion for centuries. 

The first Christian preachers inter- 
preted the scriptures from their Chris- 



tocentric viewpoint and they hardly 
needed formal rhetoric to exhort the 
little groups of Christians. As Christian 
preachers came into greater contact with 
the Greek and Latin-speaking Gentile 
world, we find growing evidence to 
their attention to the form of the mes- 
sage. Bultmann and others identified 
what they believed to be a stylistic re- 
semblance between certain parts of the 
New Testament epistles and the Stoic 
diatribe. 4 It should be noted that the 
great Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, was 
among those forced to leave Rome 
when the Emperor Domitian banished 
all philosophers from that city about 
A.D. 90. 

Once we go beyond the New Testa- 
ment and the first century, the influence 
of Greek Rhetoric on Christian preach- 
ing is indisputable. Between the New 
Testament and the work of Origen in 
the third century there are only two 
sermons extant. Unfortunately we have 
no sermons from Ignatius, Justin Mar- 
tyr, Polycarp, Tertullian, or Irenaeus. 
One we do have is The Homily on the 
Passion by Melito, Bishop of Sardis. It 
gives full evidence of the influence of 
Greek Rhetoric upon Christian preach- 
ing in the East by A.D. 170. This work, 
identified only in 1930, 5 sets the \nown 
beginning of “stylized Christian ora- 

The influence of Greek Rhetoric be- 
came pervasive in the third and fourth 
centuries. Basil, Gregory and Chrysos- 

4 R. Leijs, S.I., “Predication Des Apotres,” 
in Nouvelle Revue Theologique, Tome LXIX, 

5 Edited by Campbell Bonner (Studies 
and Documents, XII), London: Christophers 
and Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania 
Press, 1940. For a full description of the 
Codex see Campbell Bonner, The Last Chap- 
ters of Enoch in Greek., pp. 2-12 (Studies and 
Documents, VIII). 

tom were pupils of the outstanding 
pagan Sophist, Libanius. In their later 
years they attacked Sophistic Rhetoric, 
but they could not escape its influence 
on their preaching. In one of Basil’s 
sermons he stops to say 

Now do not laugh at the homeliness 
of my diction, for we do not approve 
of your high-spun phrases and care 
not a jot for your harmonious ar- 
rangements. Our writers do not waste 
their time in polishing periods. We 
prefer clarity of expression to mere 
euphony. 6 

It is indicative of the influence of his 
rhetorical training, however, that Basil 
should phrase this denial in a carefully 
constructed chiasmus: a subtle form of 
parallelism which reverses the elements 
in the preceding clause to avoid monot- 
ony while retaining symmetry. The 
danger against which conscientious 
preachers struggled was the danger that 
preaching would be reduced to style 
alone. That this should even have be- 
come a concern indicates how quickly 
the simple exposition of scripture or 
the missionary message became a much 
more complicated question when the 
Church really moved out into the 
world. Once the relatively simple story 
of Jesus had been told again and again, 
what was preaching to become? 

When C. H. Dodd 7 isolated for us ele- 
ments of the original \erygma, the 
core of the apostolic preaching, he con- 

6 Campbell, James M., The Influence of 
the Second Sophistic on the Style of the 
Sermons of St. Basil the Great. (The Catho- 
lic University of American Patristic Studies, 
Vol. II), Washington, D.C.: Catholic Uni- 
versity of America, 1922, p. 146. 

7 The Apostolic Preaching And Its De- 
velopments , New York and London: Harper 
and Brothers, 1954. (First published in 



vinced us that we cannot preach just 
what Paul did. What meaning would it 
have for our congregations if we 
stressed that Christ “was born of the 
seed of David?” How can we say that 
“the prophecies are fulfilled, and the 
new Age is inaugurated by the coming 
of Christ” when our hearers know and 
care little about prophecies which are 
no part of their immediate heritage, 
when they have an entirely different 
conception as to what a “new Age” 
means, and when we are not preaching 
at the time of the inauguration of this 
Age, but nineteen centuries later! 

This problem with the content of the 
message was also recognized early in 
the history of Christian preaching. Ori- 
gen, in the first half of the third cen- 
tury, stressed the literal interpretation 
of biblical history and events whenever 
that was possible. However, it was he 
who gave the rationale and defense to 
allegorical interpretation. So strong was 
this impetus that the medieval preacher 
was expected to find at least four and, 
preferably seven, senses in every pas- 
sage of Scripture. The method of inter- 
pretation which Origen employed, like 
the method of presentation which 
Chrysostom used, was at the time a 
meaningful way to communicate the 
Gospel. R. M. Grant has observed 

The allegorical method, at a critical 
moment in Christian history, made 
it possible to uphold the rationality of 
Christian faith. It was used to pre- 
vent obscurantism. And though we 
question not only its assumptions but 
also its results, we must not forget 
what we owe to it. 8 

Similarly, another scholar has observed 
of the rhetorical style of Chrysostom 

8 The Bible in the Church, New York: The 
Macmillan Company, 1948. 

The refined and cultured audiences 
of Antioch and Constantinople would 
have ignored a preacher whose ex- 
position of doctrine was devoid of the 
graces and embellishments of lan- 
guage which they prized so highly. 
The heretics and infidels, who were 
either to be refuted or won over to 
the truth, would have scorned and 
ridiculed him. 9 

These early attempts to adapt both 
the content and the form of Christian 
preaching to the needs of the times set 
the pattern for centuries to come. How- 
ever that pattern was given explicit at- 
tention by Augustine in his On Chris- 
tian Doctrine. Augustine began this 
work in 397 but left it unfinished at 
chapter 25 of the third book. 10 Rome 
fell in 410. From 413 to 426 Augustine 
worked on his City of God. It indicates 
something of the importance he at- 
tached to preaching that after such an 
historical upheaval he should have re- 
turned in 426 to the completion of book 
three and book four which is essentially 
the first Christian manual of preaching. 
Books one to three of On Christian 
Doctrine deal with the interpretation 
and understanding of Scripture while 
book four deals with the communica- 
tion of this understanding. The work 
was so significant that it was referred 
to and used in other writings in the 
sixth and ninth centuries. It was com- 
mended by Bonaventure and Thomas 

9 Ameringer, Thomas E„ "The Stylistic In- 
fluence of the Second Sophistic On the Pane- 
gyrical Sermons of St. John Chrysostom,” A 
Study In Gree\ Rhetoric (The Catholic Uni- 
versity of America Patristic Studies, Vol. V). 
Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of 
America, 1921. 

10 NPNF, First Series, vol. II; The Fathers 
of the Church, vol. IV. See Augustine, Re- 
tractions, book II, chap. 4. 


Aquinas. In the Renaissance it was the 
first work of a Church Father to be 
printed. About 1465 two editions of 
book four appeared in Germany under 
the title, The Art of Preaching. Most 
significant for us, however, is that Au- 
gustine’s aims for preaching, taken 
from Cicero, continued to be given as 
the aims of preaching as late as 1937 
in American homiletics. 11 

Augustine ignored centuries of So- 
phistic Rhetoric and went back instead 
to the injunctions of Cicero who said 
of the orator: “To teach is a necessity, 
to delight is a beauty, to persuade is a 
triumph.” However, what tended for 
Cicero to be three aims or functions of 
the orator, became for Augustine three 
types of style, no one of which is an end 
in itself. Augustine comments that the 
truth alone is rarely enough to persuade 
and move, so the preacher follows 
through the whole process of instruct- 
ing, pleasing and persuading. “The 
teaching, which is a matter of necessity, 
depends on what we say; the other two 
on the way we say it.” The Ciceronian 
aims, reinterpreted by Augustine, thus 
became the essential definition of the 
purpose of Christian preaching for the 
next fifteen hundred years! 

To teach, to please, to persuade — 
this was what preaching had to do. To 
be sure the content given in the rhetori- 
cal form was to be the Gospel of Jesus 
Christ, however interpreted. The form, 
though, was not shaped — or judged — 
by Christian theology. It was available 
for any kind of secular or sacred use. 
The General Assembly of the United 
Presbyterian Church in i960, heard a 
speaker tell them that the functions of 
radio and television broadcasting were 

11 Andrew W. Blackwood, The Fine Art 
of Preaching, New York: The Macmillan 
Company, 1937, p. 22. 


to inform, to entertain, and to sell. 
Cicero on Madison Avenue! 12 Little 
wonder that seminary professors in 
the later nineteenth and early twentieth 
centuries took pains in their Inaugural 
addresses and other writings to explain 
the difference between “Sacred Rhet- 
oric” and just plain “Rhetoric.” The 
difference usually came down to the 
sacred content of the message and the 
sacred calling of the speaker. Never was 
the question of the applicability of the 
aims of pagan rhetoric to Christian 
preaching challenged directly. Through- 
out all this period many things were 
said about the person of the speaker 
or preacher, and even about the place 
of the Holy Spirit. But the essential 
legacy given to us was a definition 
of preaching in terms of the form and 
content of the sermon. What this per- 
mitted was an understanding of preach- 
ing wherein the content could easily be 
separated from the aim and purpose. 

Professor Ovid Sellers devoted his 
inaugural address as Professor of He- 
brew and Old Testament Exegesis at 
McCormick Theological Seminary in 
1924 to the topic, Hebrew and Homi- 
letics. He offered it as “an apology for 
the existence of the department of 
Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis 
in a progressive 20th Century Christian 
Theological Seminary.” 13 As part of his 
apology for Hebrew, he gave the need 
for understanding the problems of 
biblical criticism as well as the text and 
commentaries. During the 1920’s few 
preachers were stressing the bible in 
their sermons. Still they went right on 

12 Speech by Thomas Bostic, Mayor of 
Yakima, Washington and President of Cas- 
cade Broadcasting Co. May 21, i960. 

13 Published in pamphlet form. Copy in 
Speer Library of Princeton Theological Semi- 

1 10 


preaching: teaching, pleasing and per- 
suading! The Trade Lists of 1925 show 
that twice as many single volumes of 
sermons were published as in 1900. 
Whereas the statements on preaching 
of Luther and Calvin had thrown the 
emphasis on the almost autonomous 
Word of God, historical development 
was to show that the form could be just 
as autonomous as the content. Never 
have we developed a wholistic concept 
of preaching! 

But preaching is far more than the 
form and content of a sermon. Preach- 
ing is a complicated event which has 
four significant human components. 
These are: 

The one who speaks. 

Those who hear what is said. 

That which is said (its form and 

The social/cultural milieu in which 
something is said by the one to the 

In other words there is a preacher, a 
congregation, a sermon, and a particu- 
lar context of time, place and circum- 
stance. It is an error to formulate an 
understanding of what preaching is 
which does not include all four of these 
components. Anything else is partial. It 
may be possible to analyze each of these 
components separately under principles 
of exegesis, principles of communica- 
tion, and a theology of the Word. But 
it is impossible then to simply put them 
all in juxtaposition and have an ade- 
quate understanding of preaching. 
Preaching must be understood as an 
organic event in which these four com- 
ponents are so intermingled as to be 
partly indistinguishable. The preacher 
is not merely one who “delivers” the 
sermon ; the preacher also is the sermon, 
the personification of this expression of 

faith. The sermon is not simply the 
biblical-theological content, but it is 
this as filtered through a particular 
preacher and as perceived by a member 
of the congregation in terms of his or 
her personal life situation which, in 
turn, is part of the general social con- 

Such a dynamic event as preaching 
can only be described by an image 
which itself conveys the idea of multi- 
plicity in one. The image I would 
suggest is the image of Preaching As 
Confluence. The word confluence has 
three meanings — all of them germane 
to this concept of preaching. Confluence 
is a flowing together of two or more 
streams. Confluence is their place of 
junction. Confluence is the body of 
water so formed. The source of preach- 
ing is confluence, the flowing together 
of the four streams: preacher, congre- 
gation, sermon, context. The event of 
preaching is confluence — their place of 
junction. The result of preaching is con- 
fluence — the new body of experience so 
formed by this coming together. 

While we could produce many exam- 
ples, from Augustine on, of those who 
have recognized the existence of these 
four components of the preaching situa- 
tion, the components have always been 
analyzed as more or less distinct. My 
suggestion here is that such an ap- 
proach cannot define for us the essence 
of preaching which depends on the ab- 
solute intermingling of the four com- 
ponents. We need a hermeneutic ap- 
proach which is able to cope with this. 
Because we have continued to make an 
analytical distinction of the components 
of the preaching event, we continue to 
say or do things which to me are un- 

One of these is the claim that there is 
some autonomous, external Word of 



God, unconditioned historically, which 
speaks to the preacher and through him 
or her to the congregation. Karl Barth’s 
doctrine of the Word gave a theological 
certainty to preachers, but at the cost of 
reality in a practical sense . 14 Helmut 
Thielicke’s comment is to the point 
when he says, “Our word in the sermon 
merely shares the fateful impotency of 
all other words .” 15 It may even be pos- 
sible to suggest that the Word of God 
forms itself through the shaping of 
human existence which takes place in 
the confluence of which we have been 
speaking so that, by the power of the 
Holy Spirit, this confluence becomes a 
particular actualization of the Word of 

A second thing unacceptable to me is 
that the preacher should be a passive 
participant in the preaching event’s 
most significant decision. The preacher 
is such when he or she permits the 
lectionary to choose the scriptural text 
for the sermon. The increased use of the 
lectionary as a basis for preaching in the 
Reformed tradition is symptomatic of 
the decline of the preacher as an active 
theologian. When the preacher has 
no sense of what the Word of the Lord 
needs to be, he can always fall back on 
what cycle A says is the Word for this 
week. But the words of Amos on the 
lips of Hosea are not the Word of God 
to his people. When the preacher relies 
on cycle A to tell her what to say, that 
preacher has already surrendered the 
most significant theological decision she 
is called upon to make, namely, what is 
the Word of God for this people, this 

14 See Theology of the Liberating Word, 
edited by Frederick Herzog, chap. II, “From 
the Word to the Words” by Hans-Dieter 
Bastian, pp. 46-75, Nashville-New ' York: 
Abingdon Press, 1971. 

15 Ibid. p. 49. (Quoted) 

week? After the preacher has made 
that decision, everything else is “how 
to.” How to exegete it, organize it, ex- 
press it! But a perfect exegesis, even 
exposition, of the wrong Scripture for 
the time is a case of preaching the Bible 
rather than preaching the Gospel. 

The preacher is responsible before 
God to see that the necessary confluence 
takes place as the rushing streams of the 
culture, the individual lives of the con- 
gregation members, the faith experience 
of the preacher, and the reality of Jesus 
Christ meet at that moment of junction 
which is the preaching event. The 
preacher cannot guarantee what the 
results of that confluence will be. That 
is the work of the Holy Spirit. The 
preacher is responsible to be an active 
theologian who provides two of the 
necessary components to the confluence: 
himself/herself as a faith-person and a 
carefully thought through presentation 
of the Gospel. We do not, then, even 
come close to a definition of preaching 
in terms of teaching or persuading. You 
cannot define this swirling together in 
confluence. You experience it; and 
when you have, you say, “That is 

This is an insecure, even frightening 
position to be in as a preacher. It is the 
kind of experience which W. H. Auden 
describes about the poet. If, in the fol- 
lowing passage you think “preacher” 
and “sermon” where Auden says “poet” 
and “poem” you will get some sense of 
what preaching as confluence implies. 

He will never be able to say: “To- 
morrow I will write a poem and, 
thanks to my training and experience, 
I already know I shall do a good job.” 
In the eyes of others a man is a poet 
if he has written one good poem. In 
his own he is only a poet at the mo- 

1 12 


ment when he is making his last re- 
vision to a new poem. The moment 
before, he was still only a potential 
poet; the moment after, he is a man 
who has ceased to write poetry, per- 
haps forever . 16 

I do not expect that everyone has 
agreed with all that has been said in this 
lecture. As a matter of fact, I would be 
disappointed if all did! I have tried to 
indicate that some basic assumptions 

16 The Dyer’s Hand and other essays, New 
York: Random House, 1962, p. 41. 

about preaching must be reopened to 
investigation and that present practices 
need continually to be evaluated. Most 
of all it is my concern to demonstrate 
that a Seminary of the Reformed tra- 
dition needs to provide not only for the 
practice of preaching, but also for con- 
tinuing reflection on the history and 
interpretation of this event which is the 
most cogent reminder in the life of the 
Church that the Word of God must 
always be a living Word to this gen- 

The Minister’s Theological 

by Seward Hiltner 

T hree factors in my experience of 
recent years have led me to focus 
this discussion on the minister’s theo- 
logical responsibility. These are, first, 
my work in the Doctor of Ministry 
program; second, some recent acquaint- 
ance with the standard examination in 
theology of the United Presbyterian 
Church; and third, my efforts in several 
courses to teach the theological dimen- 
sions of pastoral care. 

In the D.Min. program it was soon 
discovered that this generally able and 
talented group of ministers had done 
very little to cultivate theological reflec- 
tion on their actual experiences of 
ministry. Whether the ministry event 
under consideration was a pastoral call, 
a sermon, the course of a meeting, or a 
stewardship campaign, the theological 
comments about it tended toward su- 
perficiality in most instances, and some- 
times even to irrelevance. If the event 
reported was a pastoral call on someone 
who appeared resistive to help, the 
theological remarks might be only that 
the person needed to love, or to accept 

* Address given at the Opening Convoca- 
tion of the 1978-79 academic year at Prince- 
ton Theological Seminary. 

An alumnus of Lafayette College and the 
University of Chicago (B.D. and PhD.), 
the Rev. Seward Hiltner has been Professor of 
Theology and Personality at Princeton Theo- 
logical Seminary since 1961. From 1938 to 
1950, Dr. Hiltner served as Executive Secre- 
tary of the Department of Pastoral Services of 
the Commission on Religion and Health and 
the Commission on Ministry in Institutions of 
the Federal Council of Churches. He was for 
eleven years Professor of Pastoral Theology 
and Chairman of the Field of Religion and 
Personality at the University of Chicago. A 
widely \nown writer, Dr. Hiltner has pub- 
lished over 200 articles in the field of religion 
and psychiatry and is the author of ten boo\s, 
including Ferment in the Ministry (Abing- 
don, 1969). 

the love of God in Jesus Christ. Seldom 
was the theological understanding of 
love used to show exactly why such 
human resistances are so deep and dif- 
ficult to overcome. When I made such 
a point in a workshop discussion, the 
ministers seemed glad to have it. But 
the next report was likely to be little 
better theologically than the first. I 
came to assume, therefore, that we were 
dealing not mainly with lack of knowl- 
edge but with resistance, a kind of re- 
sistance that the persons themselves did 
not know they had. 

Later experience has tended to con- 
firm this theory. Somehow and some- 
where most ministers have come to 
regard theology as a kind of magic 
helper, usually elusive, but capable of 
reinforcing one’s ministry efforts if 
only one can hit on the correct positive 
note. The fact is of course that bringing 
to bear on a situation the most relevant 
theological insights may show that what 
one has been attempting needs not rein- 
forcement but criticism. It is significant 
that several of these ministers I have 
known have begun to gain ability to 
reflect theologically on their experiences 
only after being shaken by a reflection 


of this kind emerging in a workshop 

The second factor that has influenced 
my choice of topic is the standard Pres- 
byterian examination in theology. In 
this examination the questions are posed 
in situational form. The candidate is 
not evaluated in terms of the theological 
content of his or her position, but for 
ability to relate theological resources or 
issues to the situation as described. Let 
me suggest the principles that seem to 
be operating here. 

First, the candidate’s theological abil- 
ity is distinguished from any type of 
predetermined content position. Con- 
comitantly, the freedom to take one 
position or another is not regarded as 
antithetical to theological ability. No 
doubt some positions taken by candi- 
dates strain the patience of examiners. 
But so long as a candidate seems to be 
on the road to some kind of Christian 
position, that effort is respected; and 
what is measured is the candidate’s 
awareness of the resources being used 
in the process. 

Second, when asked to articulate 
something of a theological nature that 
may shed light on the situation posed, 
the candidate is free to select his or her 
theological data from biblical, doctrinal, 
ethical, historical or other sources de- 
pending on his or her judgment of their 
relevance. At least in principle, this 
view renounces the notion that there is 
some master theological discipline from 
which all others are derivative. Thus 
the multiperspectival nature of theology 
itself seems to be espoused. 

The third factor leading me to this 
topic has been my own teaching ex- 
perience in pastoral care, attempting to 
help students to relate theological re- 
sources and issues to their experiences 
in pastoral care. To make progress 

along this line, I have found that there 
is no substitute for theological analysis 
of the student’s own reports. From these 
teaching experiences let me add only 
one point of insight, namely, helping 
the student to a proper relationship be- 
tween involvement and reflection. 

Some students in pastoral care are 
inclined to believe, at first, that if theol- 
ogy is relevant then it follows that there 
will be a theological talk with the pa- 
rishioner. Since that may sometimes be 
true, I am of course careful not to ne- 
gate the idea entirely. But the fact is 
that theological reflection by the student 
is of great importance even when it may 
not at this time be appropriate to have 
explicit God talk with the parishioner. 
Understanding this is not easy for some 
students. They may have caught a 
vision of what it means to begin to help 
another human being. So they are 
tempted to over-value involvement. To 
stand aside and detached, and to ask 
from theological perspectives just what 
has taken place, may appear cold as 
against the warmth of the actual rela- 
tionship. But it may be just as important 
for long term helping to become a 

All Christians have a ministry, not 
only those who are ordained or profes- 
sional, and that ministry includes some 
kind and degree of theological respon- 
sibility. But if the “pastoral directors,” 
as H. Richard Niebuhr called them, are 
not exercising theological responsibility, 
it is altogether likely that no one is. 

The discussion will be in three sec- 
tions. First, what theological responsi- 
bility means. Second, the nature of 
the minister’s theological responsibility. 
Third, the Seminary’s task in fostering 
theological responsibility among min- 



The prerequisite to theology is a com- 
munity of faith. Without the com- 
munity, reflection would be philosophy 
not theology. Without the faith, it could 
as easily be detachment as commitment. 

A community of faith does not, how- 
ever, automatically produce theology. It 
may only restate its heritage in the 
language that appeared at the time of its 
formation. Theology appears only when 
two additional steps are undertaken : 
first, translation of the heritage across 
time and circumstance; second, seri- 
ously inquiring about possible discrep- 
ancies between the basic faith and in- 
terpretations put upon it in the interim. 
When all three processes are in opera- 
tion, there is theology. 

Appropriate translation requires some 
degree of expert knowledge; but its 
touchstone is the involvement/detach- 
ment tension already noted. Under- 
standing of a biblical text should be 
within its own frame of reference, 
historical circumstances, and author’s 
bent. Granted the intent of the text in 
its own setting, however, is there clari- 
fying explanation of how, if at all, that 
point transcends time and circum- 
stance? If the topic is Jesus Christ as 
God/man in the formula of Chalcedon, 
is there attempt to show the values that 
the Chalcedonian Council was trying to 
protect in face of inevitably serious 
criticisms of the adequacy of Chalce- 
donian language for today’s understand- 
ing of Jesus Christ? 

Let me go one step further with the 
formula of Chalcedon, especially since 
a good deal of recent work on Christol- 
ogy has tried to translate it in new 
ways. Although some of these efforts 
are more promising than others, none 
has won much acceptance. In my opin- 


ion, most of the new formulations tend 
to take too lightly the inherently para- 
doxical nature of the Chalcedonian in- 
tent. A real paradox may be clarified 
but it cannot be solved or eliminated. 
Over-emphasis on detachment may take 
the paradox too lightly. On the other 
side, over-emphasis on involvement may 
resist entirely the effort to translate 
Chalcedon into terms that are com- 
prehensible today. 

The third ingredient needed to pro- 
duce theology by a community of faith 
is inquiry, which proceeds both by cri- 
tique and construction. While respect- 
ing the faith, its critique expresses 
skepticism about the understanding of 
the faith on the part both of our ances- 
tors and ourselves. The construction is 
partly translation as already described, 
but also testing the faith against con- 
temporary circumstances, which may in 
important respects be different from 
those of the past. In inquiry also there 
is properly a tension beween involve- 
ment and detachment. Over-involve- 
ment destroys serious inquiry, but a 
focus on detachment alone may forget 
that even the most rigorous inquiry is 
undertaken within the context of a 
community of faith. 

If theology is a reflective activity of 
the community of faith that includes 
appreciation, translation, and inquiry, 
what, then, is theological responsibility 
within that community? I suggest that 
it means a proper exercise of all three 
of these functions at all times, even 
when there appear on occasion to be 
severe tensions among them. 

It is clear that a community lacking 
appreciation of what is central in its 
heritage could have, at best, an episodic 
kind of theology with no clear criteria 
for curbing its eclecticism. It would, 
therefore, lack responsibility in relation 



to its heritage. If a community valued 
its faith and heritage, but denigrated 
the need for translation of it for con- 
temporary understanding, it would in- 
vite a combination of obscurantism and 
idolatry. And if both heritage and trans- 
lation were taken seriously, but inquiry 
shunted aside, it would not be long 
until the test of faith became believing 
six impossible things before breakfast, 
as Lewis Carroll put it. In such situa- 
tions, theological responsibility would 
be subverted by selective inattention to 
ingredients that are essential to theology 

The actual exercise of theological re- 
sponsibility by a community, however, 
is not guaranteed by the fact that some 
attention is paid to all the principal 
factors. So long as they seem to be mu- 
tually reinforcing, that may appear to 
be true. But what happens when they 
are in conflict? The nineteenth cen- 
tury’s controversies over slavery illus- 
trate this situation. The New Testament 
discussion of slavery as an institution is, 
at best, equivocal. Should it be trans- 
lated to mean subservience by slaves? 
Or would critical inquiry question the 
very base of slavery as an institution? 
There appear to be occasions when 
theological responsibility requires that 
inquiry win over heritage and transla- 
tion, as the latter have previously been 
conceived. After the battle, however, 
there needs to be reconception of the 
heritage and a new framework for its 
translation. Today’s liberation theolo- 
gies regard themselves as at a similar 
polemical point in the struggle. Wheth- 
er they can win a victory, as did the 
opponents of slavery, and then return 
to appreciation and translation of the 
heritage, remains to be seen. 

There are no general and infallible 
standards by which we can judge the 

degree to which a community is exer- 
cising theological responsibility. It is 
clear, however, that such standards must 
be equally aware of the specific needs in 
the actual contemporary situation and 
of the basic message of the faith. 


As coordinator of a particular com- 
munity, the minister is to ensure that 
general theological responsibility, as 
previously set forth, is exercised in that 
community. Not all the community’s 
responsibility is to be carried out by the 
minister himself or herself. That is why 
the notion of the minister as theologian 
in residence may be misleading; for if 
you may have a theologian around, you 
may also not have one. Further, if the 
minister is acting as theologian only 
when unengaged in program duties, 
then the reflective and detached aspect 
of theology is over-emphasized at the 
expense of involvement in necessary 
activities and ministries. Nothing 
should cloud the fact that it is finally 
the community that bears theological 

Bearing general responsibility is not, 
however, the same thing as possessing 
the special knowledge and competence 
that presumably go along with the 
minister’s education and vocation. It is 
legitimate, therefore, for the community 
to look to the minister for theological 
leadership. Certainly that should imply 
the minister’s schooling the community 
at appropriate levels, on how to exercise 
its theological responsibility. But the 
minister would be copping out if he or 
she confined theological reflection to the 
level that could easily be taught to the 
people. Being one lesson ahead in the 
textbook is hardly enough. 

The minister has three kinds of 
guidelines that may be used to help 


shape his or her theological responsi- 
bility over the course of a career. The 
first of these is some reasonable atten- 
tion to theological responsibility in gen- 
eral as that has been described: atten- 
tiveness to the faith and heritage, 
wrestling with proper translation of it, 
and constant inquiry into its meaning 
and implications. There is an inescap- 
able obligation to keep up a little bit 
across the whole range of theological 
studies. To this end there are journals, 
continuing education programs, sound 
older books that one owns but never 
mastered, as well as the chance to select 
discriminatingly from new literature. 

The second guideline, I am firmly 
convinced, is for the minister to give 
particular attention to that area of 
theology or of ministry that has most 
helped him or her to “come alive” as a 
minister. These areas may be very 
different for different people. They may 
be as varied as the letters of Paul, the 
dynamics of groups, clinical pastoral 
education, the patterns of worship, in- 
volvement in the inner city, or the life 
of Martin Luther. The point is that, for 
some people, the excitement engendered 
by some one of these areas has been 
indigenous, and has sharpened one’s 
sensitivity to everything else going on 
in ministry. It is not the same thing as 
an academic field of specialization. One 
may never become an expert in it, tech- 
nically speaking. But if the interest in it 
is inherent and strong, it is probably 
worthwhile to continue cultivating it 
so long as it continues to shed light on 
much beyond itself. Some interests of 
this enlivening kind appear to be life- 
long, while others are useful for a time 
and then are supplanted by others that 
perform the same illuminating' func- 

The third guideline lies in disciplined 

1 17 

theological reflection on the daily ex- 
periences of actual ministry, as discussed 
earlier in the introduction in connection 
with the Doctor of Ministry program. 
One might put it this way. Every act of 
ministry, if it has been worth doing at 
all, and regardless of its apparent suc- 
cess or failure, deserves a little bit of 
reflection to the end of improvement 
next time. But if such reflection is 
non-theological, then the minister is as 
slowly but surely building a wall be- 
tween ministry and theology as if he or 
she frankly renounced all theological 

I have already suggested, however, 
that the impediments to making this 
kind of procedure habitual are for- 
midable. It is not simply that a compe- 
tent theological analysis of a ministry 
situation may show up deficiencies in 
what one has done or tried to do. The 
resistance seems deeper than such spe- 
cific critiques. It seems determined to 
protect, at almost any cost, the notion 
that theology is a help and not a judg- 
ment. Earlier, I called this a “magic 
helper” conception of theology. From a 
psychological point of view, it demon- 
strates the process of defensive idealiza- 
tion, according to which it may be 
much more difficult to admit the pos- 
sible error in one’s view of the ideal 
self than to confess the flaws in the 
actual self. The early researches of Carl 
Rogers were instructive on this point. 
Successful counseling changed the view 
of the actual self. But it seldom touched 
the picture of the ideal self. The im- 
pregnable bastion was the imaginative 
view of what one might be. It is of 
course precisely this imaginative pro- 
jection that a well-rounded theology 
calls into question. 

When the ministers in our D.Min. 
program do learn to use a wide range 



of theological resources in analyzing 
their ministry situations, I believe they 
are learning to give up, however slowly 
and reluctantly, some kind of idealized 
view of theology. They see that theology 
is not a magic helper automatically sup- 
porting their intention in particular acts 
of ministry. They experience a critique 
of that very intention; but at the same 
time they receive a judgment on the 
past situation, they acquire an insight 
into the next situation. Theology is de- 
throned from its idealized state, and 
proves, all things considered, to be more 
helpful than otherwise. To arrive at 
that end, however, the notion that theol- 
ogy is to be attended to only when it is 
obviously helpful has had to be re- 
nounced. Hearing the word, as Karl 
Barth correctly stated, is at first always 
upsetting. Learning to listen for the 
word is, as he was more reluctant to 
state, a source of deeper satisfaction 
than anyone knows who has never gen- 
uinely heard the word. 


What can and should a seminary do 
to help its students and graduates to 
develop appropriate theological respon- 
sibility? Some of these things have been 
alluded to in the previous discussion, 
and need only to be mentioned. First, 
courses that deal with some dimension 
of ministry, such as preaching or pas- 
toral care, can make explicit efforts to 
aid students to relate theological re- 
sources responsibly to the specific tasks. 
Second, it is my conviction that such 
learning is always greater when the 
actual experience of the student or min- 
ister is the focus of discussion. Third, 
there seems no good reason why a stu- 
dent’s work in any branch of theology 
cannot, to some extent, be explicitly 
related to actual or potential ministry 

situations, or at least the background 
laid for the student to do so. 

If these and other specific measures 
are to be effective, however, it seems 
necessary for students and ministers to 
be convinced that the faculty collective- 
ly is concerned to relate theology and 
ministry. The relatively good record 
that we have had in the D.Min. work- 
shops to this end suggests that, at least 
for the two workshop leaders, one from 
a classical and the other from a practical 
discipline, that really works. Virtually 
without exception, faculty members 
who have led such workshops have in 
fact been committed to relating theol- 
ogy and ministry, regarding neither 
as foreign to their task. That fact has 
had a paramount influence on the 
ministers in the workshops. Ordinarily 
they do not emerge from the program 
as research experts in any branch of 
theology or ministry. But they acquire 
wisdom in exploring those theological 
resources that can best guide them in a 
variety of ministry situations. 

I do not believe that we can precisely 
duplicate the D.Min. experience with 
students in the initial phase of theologi- 
cal education. The ministers are on the 
job full time, have fully accepted their 
ministerial role, and have encountered 
troubling problems on which they are 
seeking light. That may or may not be 
true of M.Div. and A.M. students, but 
it is nothing against them that it is 
often untrue. Therefore, it is clear that 
a precise duplication of the D.Min. 
program would be unrealistic. 

From the beginning of the D.Min. 
program, however, we have sought to 
explore what aspects of that agenda 
might have transfer value to our pri- 
mary degree work. Already many 
courses are profiting in some respects 
from the inquiries. If the faculty were 


large enough to enable us to have more 
jointly taught courses, crossing the lines 
of fields and departments, we could do 
still more. 

There is, nevertheless, a factor of re- 
sistance in the faculty. This has arisen 
as the unintended consequence of im- 
proving theological knowledge and un- 
derstanding by cultivating specializa- 
tion in scholarship. Such specialization, 
whether in the New Testament, ethics, 
or Christian education, makes possible 
for faculty members a depth of ex- 
ploration not otherwise possible. Un- 
happily, its unintended and undesirable 
corollary is often to give not only to 
individual faculty members but also to 
a faculty collectively the notion that 
they have been granted certificates of 
exemption from any responsibility ex- 
cept in relation to their field of special- 
ization. It is a good thing to have free- 
dom to explore an area in depth. But 
if much of the faculty’s task is prepar- 
ing people for ministry, it is not a good 
thing if the certificates of exemption 
are displayed as prominently as the 
areas of special competence. The minis- 
ter, present or future, knows that he or 
she will have to try to put it all to- 
gether. People who appear to have a 
license freeing them from any such re- 
sponsibility can hardly be called the 
best role models. 

It is to just this kind of situation that 
one of our experiments of the past two 
years has spoken very loudly and clear- 
ly. Since the autumn of 1976, three 
groups of faculty members, averaging 
ten or so at a time, have engaged in 
serious seminar study patterned on the 
D.Min. workshop model. Actual min- 
istry situations in which faculty mem- 
bers have been engaged have been put 
into written form, and analyzed, with 
discussion focusing on the use of theo- 


logical issues or resources to improve 
understanding of the situations of min- 
istry. Every participating faculty mem- 
ber has exposed himself or herself in 
terms of an act of ministry, not just the 
field of specialization. Colleagues have 
dealt critically, but also supportively, 
with each situation. I have encountered 
no faculty member participating in one 
of these seminars who does not feel 
significantly improved by the experi- 
ence. Not quite half the faculty have so 
far been involved in these seminars. It 
is my hope that the remainder of the 
faculty will either enroll for the seminar 
scheduled for 1979, or request one for 
a future date. The seminars are not a 
panacea. But in my seventeen years on 
this campus, they have done more to 
eliminate the certificates of exemption 
than anything else I have seen. 

When each of these faculty seminars 
has concluded, its members have been 
impressed with the unfinished business 
of how the new insights may, at least 
in a few particular ways, be carried over 
into regular work beyond the D.Min. 
program itself. There have been con- 
tinuing meetings and discussions to that 
end. Every possible experimental ad- 
vance has of course to confront the 
weight of heavily scheduled routine. 

In however small a way, the faculty 
seminars have made one declaration in 
principle that is of paramount impor- 
tance. The participating members have 
said in effect: we will not ask ministers 
to do something that we have not made 
an effort to do ourselves. Token as it 
may have been, that involvement on the 
part of faculty members has included 
not only exposure of themselves in 
ministry situations but also exploration 
of theological resources relevant to those 
situations, no matter if the resources lie 
within the field of specialization or not. 



All certificates of exemption have been 

Is it possible for a theological semi- 
nary to induce its whole faculty to can- 
cel their exemption certificates so that 
the issues and resources in theology it- 
self, and in its relation to ministry, may 
be seriously and periodically discussed 
as a part of the ongoing life of the fac- 
ulty as basic as developing curriculums 
or making policy decisions? I do not 
know the answer to this question. But 
I believe the recent seminars by the 
three faculty groups provide a potential 
climate for such discussion that was 
only nascent before. 

Theology, whether we like it or not, 
is a complex business. Without faith 
and commitment, it would never get 
started. But without both scholarship 
and self-questioning, it would be with- 
out the cutting edge of inquiry. It is 

both initiated and concluded by involve- 
ment, but in between it must become at 
home with detachment, although never 
so comfortable as to eschew involve- 
ment altogether. 

It is my testimony, perhaps not scien- 
tifically verifiable but nonetheless full 
of conviction, that God’s grace has been 
operative in this seminary precisely in 
some of the activities I have described 
in this discussion. I am far from cer- 
tain, in detailed terms of program, how 
we may respond to that action in the 
ways that will advance theological re- 
sponsibility most effectively for minis- 
ters, for other students, and for our- 
selves. Something, however small and 
token it may be, has happened here that 
is not of our own conscious devising. 
If we recognize that, it is possible that 
we may not fail to hear the call. 

The Door That Closes 

Sermon by Paul W. Meyer 

Born in India of missionary parents, the 
Rev. Paul W . Meyer is the Helen H. P. Man- 
son Professor of New Testament Literature 
and Exegesis at Princeton Theological Semi- 
nary. An alumnus of Elmhurst College and 
Union T heological Seminary, N.Y. (B.D. 
and Th.D.), with studies also in Basel and 
Gottingen, Dr. Meyer has taught at Colgate- 
Rochester Divinity School, Vanderbilt Theo- 
logical Seminary, and came to Princeton in 
the autumn of igy8. He is the author of The 
Justification of Jesus (igyy Shaffer Lectures 
at Yale). This sermon was given in Miller 
Chapel on November 29, igy8. 

Text: Luke 12:22-70 (RSV ) 

S ome years ago the Columbia Broad- 
casting System devoted one of its 
special broadcasts to an “Essay on 
Doors.” In what was at once a light- 
hearted whimsy and a kind of reflective 
visual and audio prose poem, the com- 
mentator, followed by the moving tele- 
vision camera, sauntered from one kind 
of door to another, opening, closing, 
demonstrating and talking about: the 
warmly-lit and inviting front door of a 
home; a much more heavily used kitch- 
en screen-door, with its long spring and 
the unforgettable sound of its slam- 
ming shut; a revolving door, simulta- 
neously inhaling and exhaling custom- 
ers of some busy emporium; a mysteri- 
ous closet-door; a conversational Dutch 
door; a tricky pair of louvered swinging 
doors — and many more. 

One could conduct a comparable tour 
of Biblical doors, and find a similar 
variety of denotation and connotation. 
A few, just within the New Testament, 
are: the temple doors, in one place 
shading a crippled beggar who arrested 
the passing apostles, and in another 
slammed shut to keep out Paul and the 
supposed defilement of his non-Jewish 
companions on the sacred precincts; 
the visionary door through which the 

seer of Revelation is admitted to the 
throne of heaven and its surrounding 
worship; the figurative door of mission- 
ary opportunity opened for Paul in 
Ephesus; the door of death and decay, 
shut and opened by the rolling of a 
great stone; the prison doors, from 
which here an earthquake and there an 
angel set apostles free; the gates of 
Hades, signaling the domain of an alien 
and hostile power; the door to the 
sheepfold, serving to test whether the 
one who enters is a real shepherd or an 
impostor; Jesus himself, the door to 
salvation; or the door of the hearer’s 
indifferent heart, upon which the words 
of Jesus are a knock, a persevering, a 
persisting, a pressing knock. 

One of these words of Jesus, which 
supplies our text, has itself to do with 
a door. Not two doors, mark you, one 
leading to life and the other to death, 
but one door, which is eventually a 
closed door. The only question about 
that kind of door is which side of it a 
person is on, for a closed door has only 
two sides: an inside and an outside. 

There is nothing particularly unclear 
about the parable. Jesus is asked to re- 
spond to a standard religious question 
of his day: whether in the end only a 



few will turn out to be saved. His reply 
is to speak of salvation as a door which 
God opens and human beings must 
enter, a door that opens only from the 
inside. And it is a narrow door: it takes 
some struggle and effort to get in; one 
cannot simply stroll leisurely through 
it! If some do not enter, that is not 
because God is unwilling to admit 
them, but because they fail to meet the 
terms which the door itself imposes, 
and the running themes of Jesus’ teach- 
ing in the Synoptic tradition make clear 
what that involves: salvation cannot be 
taken for granted; it is not enough to 
say “We have Abraham as our father”; 
the very presence of God’s open door 
poses the demand for a response to 
Him, for obedience and the pursuit of 
his righteousness! 

Even more important: this door is 
not rusted open permanently. A time 
comes when the door is shut, when it is 
too late for even the most strenuous ef- 
fort to gain access. The last verses vivid- 
ly contrast what goes on inside and out- 
side this closed door. Inside is light and 
joy; here the patriarchs and prophets, 
and people from every quarter of the 
world sit down at the Messianic Ban- 
quet in the Kingdom of God. Outside 
there is darkness and despair. “Weep- 
ing and gnashing of teeth” in this con- 
text is hardly an expression of remorse 
and fear — but the grinding fury of frus- 
tration on the part of those who thought 
they had some right to get in. This 
fury is their punishment, for the King- 
dom of God always turns things inside 
out. “I tell you, I do not know where 
you come from.” The reality of God 
and his repudiation is far more shatter- 
ing than any silence of God ever could 
be; it always upsets the calculations of 
those who believe they have some pre- 
scriptive right to God’s favor. “Yes, 

and some who are now last will be first, 
and some who are first will be last.” 

Of course it has always been possible 
for some Christian folk to remain un- 
touched by the sight of this closed 
door, to make out that they are the 
ones inside and that those who stand 
outside are someone else: the Jews of 
Jesus’ own day, or the Roman Catholics 
of the time of the Reformation, or 
someone else today. Luke shows a pro- 
founder dimension to his Gospel, to his 
Christian faith, when he does not mere- 
ly repeat the parable and let it go at 
that. Instead, he introduces into the 
frantic conversation that goes on 
through the closed door precisely the 
uniquely Christian version of this false 
security, the last-ditch appeal on the 
part of those who are outside to the 
historical presence of Jesus! “Then you 
will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank 
in your presence, and you taught in 
our streets.’” “Come on, Lord! We 
still sit at our communion tables with 
you. We have more than heard, we 
have studied and learned the teachings 
you gave while you lived on this earth 
of ours. Doesn’t that count for any- 
thing?!” “I tell you, I do not know 
where you come from; depart from 
me, all you workers of iniquity.” By 
itself, an appeal to Jesus is in no respect 
different from an appeal to Abraham — 
and it does not matter under what theo- 
logical banner the appeal is made. 

This is a frightening door, this closed 
door, a profoundly unsettling door. One 
can leaf through the whole Gospel of 
Luke, through the whole New Testa- 
ment, searching for some detour around 
it, some last hinged panel in this door 
to squeeze through, to relieve the final- 
ity of it. And there is none. Why is 
that? Because religious /^security is as 
much a part of the authentic knowledge 



of God as religious certainty; “not hav- 
ing” is as crucial as “having”; the out- 
side of the door is as important as the 
inside. If we dispense with the one, the 
other is gone as well, no matter how 
much we protest to the contrary. And 
why should that be so? Because in the 
New Testament all these things we 
prize: salvation, security, possession, 
joy, freedom, love, peace, realization — 
all are given in the form of insecurity , 
always proffered in a way that keeps 
them on God’s terms and not on ours, 
always in a form which probes and chal- 
lenges and unsettles. The love of God 
in Christ, from which of course neither 
death nor life, nor height nor depth 
can separate us, is either the burning 
love of Paul’s righteous God who meets 
us on his own terms rather than on ours 
— on a cross — or else it is a pious il- 
lusion. “On God’s own terms” — that is 
the meaning, in the New Testament, 
of God’s transcendence, and it is utter- 
ly pointless to talk of Jesus of Nazareth 
without it. God’s transcendence has 
very little to do with how much super- 
naturalism one may or may not be able 
to display in one’s theology; no, it has 
to do rather with the difference be- 
tween God’s ways and ours. The gospel 
is always given in the form of our in- 
security before God, always with a door 
slamming on our expectations and 
claims, for it is only God’s terms that 
make it authentic and sure. 

That is, finally, the real reason why 

authentic religious possession termi- 
nates in the prayer and worship for 
which we are assembled here. Not be- 
cause in this chapel some inner life 
must be juxtaposed to the outer life of 
our studies (if your studies engage you 
only outwardly, how tiresome and dull 
they must be!). Why prayer? Because 
authentic religious security is found 
only in the God whom we cannot con- 
trol, before whom we must remain 
ourselves insecure, ourselves always the 
petitioners. Real prayer is always prayer 
to the God of a door that closes and has 
an outside as well as an inside. And 
why worship? Because worship is 
fundamentally nothing else than this: 
once again to recognize and to acknowl- 
edge God’s terms in place of our own. 
That is all — and yet that is everything! 
“Yes, and some who are now last will 
be first, and some who are first will be 

Let us pray: 

Heavenly Father, who hast sent thy 
Son into the world to open the door to 
the knowledge and love of thee, help us 
to enter that door. Renew us, we be- 
seech thee, by thy life-giving Spirit, by 
the presence with us and to us of thine 
own power to give life — so that we may 
as true worshippers worship thee in 
truth, as thou truly art — and so that we 
may pray to thee as we ought to pray, 
who knowest and searchest the hearts 
of humankind. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Praise for All Things 

Sermon by Richard A. Baer, Jr. 

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Richard A. 
Baer, fr., is a member of the faculty at Cornell 
University, Ithaca, N.Y. An alumnus of Syra- 
cuse University and Princeton Theological 
Seminary, Dr. Baer has studied at the Uni- 
versity of Tubingen and at Harvard (Ph.D.). 
From 7962 to igj4 he taught at Earlham 
College and the Graduate School of Religion, 
Richmond , Indiana. 

Text: Ephesians 5:18-20 

P reaching has a close relationship to 
theology, and theology is a rather 
strange discipline, a discipline which is 
not quite sure whether it ought to feel 
at home in the modern university or 
not. In fact, the role of the theologian 
may be not too dissimilar to that of the 
court jester in the medieval world and 
later. The theologian appears to speak 
foolishness at times, and one never 
quite knows whether what he says is 
going to be very useful or not. Yet, to 
our surprise, what at first appears to be 
quite useless sometimes turns out to be 
the most useful of all. 

Jesus had a fine sense for the dialectic 
of the useful and the useless, for that 
mysterious interweaving of the relevant 
and the irrelevant. Consider how he 
perplexed his followers by telling them 
that the one who tries to save his life 
will lose it, whereas the one who loses 
his life for Jesus’ sake will find it. 
Jesus was a master of the “eschatologi- 
cal surprise,” the idea that in the end 
time things may not turn out the way 
we expected. In fact, he was bold 
enough to suggest that the tax collec- 
tors (who were collaborators with 
Rome), the sinners, and the prostitutes, 
might just make it into the Kingdom 
of God before the righteous. That was 
an eschatological surprise that was not 
too popular in his day, and, of course, 
he paid the consequences. 

The theologian, in his apparent fool- 
ishness, may risk saying things that in 
the long run, by God’s grace, may even 
reflect a certain wisdom. I am reminded 
of that fascinating passage from the 
book of Proverbs where we read that 
the personified Wisdom of God was 
playing and dancing before God when 
God created the world: 

When he established the heavens, I 
was there. . . . When he marked out 
the foundations of the earth, then I 
was beside him, like a little child; 
And I was daily his delight, dancing 
before him always, rejoicing in his in- 
habited world and delighting in the 
sons of men. 

I have often wondered what this pas- 
sage means. For such a serious business 
as the creation of the world, it sounds 
far too frivolous. Should the author 
really be talking about play and danc- 
ing and a little child at such a time? 

As I pondered the meaning of this 
text, I thought of a comment of Robert 
Frost: “A poem begins in delight and 
ends in wisdom.” The word “poem,” 
of course, comes from the Greek poein, 
that is, to do or to make. But these are 
the exact terms of the text from Prov- 
erbs. God was making a world, creat- 
ing a poem. There was delight and 
also wisdom. But what does it all 
mean ? 



What I think it means is that God 
created the world because he wanted to, 
not out of compulsion or necessity. As 
the theologians put it, he created the 
world out of his own good pleasure. 
And what he created he found good 
and beautiful and full of delight. That 
is clearly the judgment of the priestly 
editor in the first chapter of Genesis. 

For us today this would suggest that 
the basis of our lives is not work and 
achievement and the necessity of prov- 
ing or justifying ourselves but rather 
joy and delight. Contrary to the maxim, 
“If you’re not good for something, 
you’re good for nothing,” the Bible is 
trying to tell us that just the fact that 
we are is good. Being is valuable in it- 
self. Life begins with the freeing dec- 
laration, “Behold, it is very good!” 

Roman Catholic novelist and literary 
critic Romano Guardini knew the 
meaning of this declaration when he 
wrote that worship, analyzed according 
to its form, is far sooner a kind of play 
than it is work. It is the most non- 
utilitarian of all human activities. “It 
is in the highest sense the life of a 
child in which everything is picture, 
melody, and song. It is a pouring forth 
of the sacred, God-given life of the 
soul; it is a kind of holy play in which 
the soul, with utter abandon learns how 
to waste time for the sake of God.” 
What a marvelous definition of wor- 
ship, one quite foreign to our contem- 
porary fascination with efficiency and 
success. I might ask, parenthetically, 
how many of us even know how to 
waste time for each other’s sake? How 
simply to be with another person be- 
cause we delight in and enjoy each 
other and want to while away some 
time together? This, says Guardini, is 
what worship is. It is simply wanting 
to be in the presence of God. 

About five years ago, a book came 
across my desk that had another idea in 
it that at first sounded equally foolish 
to me. In fact when I first saw the main 
thesis of the author, I thought it was al- 
most indecent. He claimed that we 
ought somehow to be able to learn to 
praise God not just for the good things 
in life, not just for what is beautiful, 
what is noble, what is pleasing to us, 
but that we also could learn to praise 
God for the ugly things in life, for the 
pain and suffering, for the disappoint- 
ments and difficulties, indeed for the 
evil that we see in our own existence. 
This was a very strange, indeed, a 
foolish idea to me when I first en- 
countered it. The book, Prison to Praise , 
was written by Merlin Carothers, a 
former army chaplain. This, I might 
say, did not predispose me in favor of 
the book, for my pacifist background 
left me with more than a little bias 
against the military. Furthermore, 
Carothers had few of the academic cre- 
dentials which at that point in my life 
were still so important. Nor was the 
book very well written. The style was 
clumsy, and at points the author ap- 
peared to contradict himself. The book 
simply did not meet the standards I had 
learned to expect from religious and 
theological writing. 

Yet, for some reason I do not yet 
fully understand (call it God’s provi- 
dential grace, if you will), I did not 
stop reading Carothers’ book. I read 
through the first six chapters, and then 
when I got to the seventh and eighth 
chapters, something strange and mys- 
terious began to happen to me. I was 
no longer aware of the author’s poor 
credentials. I forgot all about his bad 
grammar. I stopped being offended by 
his lack of theological sophistication. I 



began to listen. There was a deep quiet 
inside of me. I began to learn. 

In the book Carothers tells of an 
army wife who came to him as chaplain 
of the base and began to pour out her 
troubles to him. Her alcoholic hus- 
band’s drinking problem had grown 
progressively worse over several years. 
The woman or her children often found 
him passed out on the living room 
floor drunk and naked — or, worse, the 
neighbors in their apartment building 
found him that way in the hall. Desper- 
ate, the woman saw no alternative but 
to take the children and leave him. 
“Whatever you say,” she concluded, 
“don’t tell me to stay with him. I just 
can’t do it.” 

In that last comment — “Don’t tell me 
to stay with him” — Chaplain Carothers 
somehow heard a note of indecision and 
a plea. He sensed that she still loved 
her husband a great deal. At that mo- 
ment, Carothers writes, he felt led to 
tell her: “I don’t really care whether 
you stay with him or not. I just want 
you to thank God that your husband is 
like he is.” The woman was incredu- 
lous. How, after all, can a wife thank 
God that her husband has ruined the 
family and destroyed their marriage! 
Finally, however, she agreed to kneel 
while Chaplain Carothers prayed that 
God grant her faith enough to believe 
that “He is a God of love and power 
who holds the universe in His hand.” 
And she prayed, “I do believe.” 

When Chaplain Carothers finally 
called her after two weeks and asked 
how things were going, she was ecstatic. 
Her husband hadn’t had a drink since 
the day she had prayed in Carothers’ 
office. “That’s wonderful,” said Caro- 
thers, adding that he wanted to talk 
to the man about the power of God 
that was working in their lives. Puz- 

zled, the woman said, “Didn’t you tell 
him already?” She was sure that the 
change in her husband was because the 
Chaplain had talked to him, prayed 
with him, and helped him to overcome 
his drinking problem. “No,” replied 
Carothers, “I haven’t met him yet.” It 
was a miracle, said the woman. Yes, 
replied Carothers, it was the power 
of praise releasing God’s power to work 
in the man’s life. 

Perhaps one could offer a reasonably 
good psychological explanation of what 
happened in this case. On that particu- 
lar evening, her husband might have 
sensed, quite unconsciously even, that 
something was different. Perhaps for 
the first time in years, he felt his wife 
really accepted him as he was. This 
might have broken (therapists some- 
times use the term “decathect”) his 
need to drink — perhaps the need to be 
the “naughty little boy,” or to test his 
wife’s love because as a child he had 
never really been sure of his parents’ 
love. Something had changed, and he 
was healed. 

An example from my own experi- 
ence, which also is at least partially 
intelligible in psychological terms, hap- 
pened two years ago in a small prayer- 
encounter group I was involved in. 
During the second meeting of the 
group a woman in her mid-thirties 
broke down crying. “All my life,” she 
said, “I have wanted to have children 
of my own, and now I know that will 
never be possible.” She had adopted 
four children, yet she found herself 
quite unable to accept her situation. 
She was filled with bitterness, resent- 
ment, disappointment. 

After a few moments of silence, I 
felt led to ask her: “Have you tried 
thanking God for the fact that you are 
not able to have children of your own?” 



But, like Carothers’ army wife, she was 
horrified at the suggestion. Still, some- 
thing must have reached her, for she 
was strangely silent the rest of the hour. 
I decided to let the matter rest. 

About half way through our meeting 
the next day, with almost no introduc- 
tion, the woman simply said, “I want 
to try praising God in the way you 
suggested.” “Thank you, God,” she 
prayed, “that I will never be able to 
have any children of my own.” The 
healing we then witnessed was far more 
dramatic and sudden than we could 
have anticipated. As if a stopper had 
been pulled out of a bottle, fifteen years 
of resentment, bitterness, and disap- 
pointment came flooding out of the 
woman. She is a different person today 
than when I first met her. 

It is important to note that Chaplain 
Carothers qualifies in several ways what 
he says about praising God for pain and 
suffering. First of all, he points out 
that we in no way need to deny the 
reality of suffering and evil. He does 
not believe that these are just in our 
imagination, and I agree with him. 
Such a position would be dangerous 
both psychologically and theologically. 
Secondly, Carothers says, praising God 
for all things does not make it neces- 
sary to believe that God willed or sent 
the evil to us. One must clearly distin- 
guish between the permissive and the 
directive will of God. He may permit 
certain suffering and difficulties in our 
lives but not necessarily send or will 
them. Thirdly, in no way need we pre- 
tend to li\e what has happened to us 
in situations of suffering, loss, and 
pain. To do so could well be a kind of 
psychological suicide. Finally, praising 
God for all things is not just a pious 
gimmick. God cannot be manipulated 
through praise to change his mind and 

heal us. He is not at our beck and call 
to perform religious tricks for us. The 
sooner we realize that he is no celestial 
bellhop the quicker we will grow to- 
wards spiritual maturity. 

In the four years since first reading 
Carothers’ book, I have tried to apply 
his teachings in my own life. The re- 
sults have surprised me. There have 
been areas in my life where there was 
bitterness, where there was hostility and 
resentment. There were areas where I 
had not been able to accept myself, no 
matter how hard I had tried, nor could 
I accept others fully. But when I 
stopped trying to do these things and 
simply started thanking God for myself 
just as I was and for others just as they 
were, some very beautiful things began 
to happen. 

These experiences led me to begin 
to explore the subject of praising God 
for all things in a more systematic and 
scholarly fashion. Could I find such an 
emphasis, for instance, in the Bible or 
in the theological literature and devo- 
tional writings of the church? 

I must admit that the direct Biblical 
evidence that can be cited in support of 
the notion of praising God for all things 
is scanty. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:18- 
20, “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing 
one another in psalms and hymns and 
spiritual songs, . . . always and for 
everything giving thanks in the name 
of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the 
Father.” I Thessalonians 5:18 can be 
translated as in the R.S.V., “Give 
thanks in all circumstances,” but the 
K.J.V. is probably a better rendering 
of the original Greek with its, “In ev- 
erything give thanks.” Paul thanks God 
for his weakness, including his puzzling 
“thorn in the flesh” (II Cor. 12:1-10), 
for he believes that even his weakness 
will work to the greater glory of God. 



Finally, we might note Romans 8:28, 
which, at least, might help establish a 
theological framework for the theme of 
praise for all things. I think it is best 
translated: “We know that God works 
everything for good with those who 
love him, with those who are called 
according to his purpose.” 

The theme is more clearly present in 
Christian devotional and theological 
writings. In his second book, Power in 
Praise, Carothers cites a number of ex- 
amples. Eighteenth century English 
clergyman William Law, for instance, 
said: “If anyone could tell you the 
shortest, surest way to all happiness and 
perfection, he must tell you to make it 
a rule to yourself to thank and praise 
God for everything that happens to you. 
For it is certain that whatever seeming 
calamity happens to you, if you thank 
and praise God for it, you turn it into a 
blessing.” Helen Keller writes, “I thank 
God for my handicaps, for through 
them I have found myself, my work 
and my God.” John Wesley in his 
Notes on the New Testament writes: 
“Thanksgiving is inseparable from true 
prayer: it is almost essentially connect- 
ed with it. He that always prays is ever 
giving praise, whether in ease or pain, 
both for prosperity and for the greatest 
adversity. He blesses God for all things, 
looks on them as coming from him, 
and receives them only for his sake; not 
choosing nor refusing, liking nor dis- 
liking anything, but only as it is agree- 
able or disagreeable to his perfect will.” 
The theme of praise for all things 
runs through poetry, philosophy, and 
literature, as well. The heroine in Leon 
Bloy’s late nineteenth century novel 
The Woman Who Was Poor, utters 
these amazing words, “Everything that 
happens, is something to be adored.” 
Her words were not the shallow utter- 

ance of someone who had led an easy 
and sheltered life, for she had suffered 
greatly and known the loss of almost 
everyone and everything near and dear 
to her. Out of context, her words would 
have sounded obscene to me, but I re- 
served judgment. 

Then came another surprise: Nie- 
tzsche, of all people, in his Will to 
Power, wrote: “If it be granted that we 
say Yea to a single moment, then in so 
doing we have said Yea not only to 
ourselves, but to all existence.” In his 
Posthumous Notes, he speaks even 
more directly: “To have joy in any- 
thing, one must approve everything.” 
I also discovered some beautiful pas- 
sages in the poetry of Rainer Maria 
Rilke, as in these haunting lines from 
the tenth of his Duino Elegies: 

Someday, emerging at last from this 
terrifying vision, may I burst into 
jubilant praise to assenting Angels! 
May not even one of the clear-struck 
keys of the heart fail to respond 
through alighting on slack or 
doubtful or rending strings! May a 
new-found splendour appear in my 
streaming face! May inconspicuous 
Weeping flower! How dear you will 
be to me then, you Nights of Afflic- 
tion! Oh, why did I not, inconsolable 
sisters, more bendingly kneel to re- 
ceive you, more loosely surrender my- 
self to your loosened hair? We wasters 
of sorrows! How we stare away into 
sad endurance beyond them, trying to 
foresee their end! Whereas they are 
nothing else than our winter foliage, 
our sombre evergreen, one of the sea- 
sons of our interior year, — not only 
season — they’re also place, settlement, 
camp, soil, dwelling. 

So there I was, a theologian by train- 
ing, caught up in a theme that made 



little sense to me analytically but a great 
deal of sense existentially, personally. 
Moreover, I now had found that it was 
not an uncommon idea in religious and 
secular literature. So I began to ask 
myself: What does it really mean? 
What are the objections to integrating 
these ideas into my total experience? 

It might be objected that praising 
God for all things in effect is a refusal 
to live with the New Testament ten- 
sion between the cross and resurrection. 
Would not such a position cheapen 
grace, docetize the God-forsakenness of 
the cross, de-eschatologize hope? Does 
it not trivialize human suffering by 
too quickly letting it be swallowed up 
in a theology of glory? Am I not ad- 
vocating a religion of sight rather than 
faith, confidence without struggle, con- 
viction without paradox? Do I not for- 
get that the book of Job is also a part 
of the Scriptures and that Christian 
mystics refer to the dark night of the 
soul as well as to praise and thanks- 
giving? These are all fair objections 
and cannot be avoided. 

Actually, I see much danger in prais- 
ing God for all things if one does not 
also deal realistically with the anger 
and resentment one experiences. On a 
psychological level, there is an inner 
process one may have to go through by 
which an initial rejection of some event 
or an initial failure to see its point is 
worked through to a final acceptance 
and affirmation. If the cross — in one 
sense a tragedy and an ugly thing — is 
the very “font of every blessing,” then 
the most unpromising aspects of a per- 
son’s past can likewise be channels of 
blessings. But the individual may need 
to wrestle with the event after the fash- 
ion of Job or of Jesus in Gethsemane. 
Or if a person is not yet ready to cope 
with the conditions under which a 

given part of his life will bless him, he 
may have to leave it and go into exile, 
like Jacob. There he may prosper and 
grow to the point where he is ready to 
return. Even then, he may have to 
wrestle with this part of the past, and, 
in effect, say with Jacob, “I will not let 
you go, unless you bless me (Gen. 
32:26).” Blessing could be seen as the 
total energy at all levels which comes 
to one as he accepts larger and larger 
wholes of self, world, and God into 

Praise, as I have presented it, would 
appear to short-cut this psychological 
process of wrestling through a prob- 
lem, and perhaps in a certain sense it 
does. It could be viewed as an act of 
sheer faith, an “as if” procedure which 
makes it possible to apprehend what 
is not present tangibly. The danger 
would be that it could lead one into a 
fantasy world, violating the dynamics 
by which actual transformation occurs. 
On the other hand, there is much evi- 
dence that in the realm of spiritual 
growth and healing, ordinary time de- 
terminants may not be quite relevant. 
Lasting change may come without the 
“ordinary” wrestling and working 
through of the particular difficulty. A 
more honest approach might even dare 
admit that what actually happens even 
in the more usual psychological “work- 
ing through” of a problem remains 
largely a mystery even to the trained 
therapist. In successful therapy mo- 
ments of critical change often possess a 
quality of timelessness about them, not 
unlike what Mircea Eliade and others 
mean when they refer to “eternal time.” 
There may be long days of preparation, 
but the actual “new birth,” the emer- 
gence of a new Gestalt, may come sud- 
denly, dramatically. 

Working through difficult experi- 



ences from one’s past life may also 
involve what some writers refer to as 
“the New Testament teaching on uni- 
lateral forgiveness,” namely that God 
calls the Christian to forgive those who 
harm him even if they neither ask for 
nor deserve forgiveness (the essential 
transaction in such a case is between 
the wronged individual and God). Or 
it may demand dealing with anger 
(especially intense, disproportionate 
anger) in the presence of God before 
expressing it (if at all) to the person 
who has committed the offense. The 
important thing is that anger be dealt 
with and not repressed, yet dealt with 
in such a way as not to create further 
alienation with the offending party. 

Finally, praising God for all things — 
as I have already noted — does not grant 
one immunity from suffering and pain. 
Rather it is a placing of the outcome of 
one’s life in God’s hands, a refusal to 
demand that God justify himself to 
man, a willingness to live through the 
suffering and pain without accusing 
God. One can feel God-forsaken and 
still praise God! 

Yet another objection might be raised 
against a theology of praise. An indi- 
vidual may well find the faith to praise 
God for everything, the good and evil, in 
his life, but does not this somehow im- 
ply a signal lack of seriousness in deal- 
ing with evil? Is not this teaching on 
praising God for all things at odds with 
the pervasive Biblical emphasis on jus- 
tice? Will it not cause us to lose interest 
in our commitment to improve society, 
to eliminate suffering and injustice? 
Perhaps this kind of teaching is more 
compatible with Taoism or Zen Bud- 
dhism than with Judaism and Chris- 
tianity. The statements “Everything 
that happens is something to be adored,” 
or “To have joy in anything, one must 

approve everything” are, from one per- 
spective, utterly scandalous. They cut 
right across the whole biblical emphasis 
on justice and on taking seriously the 
needs of the poor, the homeless, the 
orphan and widow. 

From another perspective, however, 
I have come to believe that they express 
a profound understanding of life, one 
which Taoists and Zen Buddhists ap- 
preciate more easily than Christians and 
Jews. There is a dimension of human 
existence where God calls us to stop 
judging, to go beyond simple assess- 
ments of good and evil, beyond our 
need to label, to criticize, to compare. 
To be sure, evil still exists, although it 
is not real in the same sense that God is 
real, but somehow we must learn that 
in the mystery of God’s righteousness, 
even darkness and suffering have their 
place in the total drama of the world 
coming to birth. In learning the lesson 
of praise for all things, I believe we will 
become less self-righteous, less attracted 
to that kind of absolutist piety that is 
willing to crush others in the process of 
saving the world. Our crusading men- 
tality will be tempered by the realiza- 
tion that ultimately the battle is not 
ours, but God’s. We will be more will- 
ing to let our agenda be set by God’s 
caring for the world, rather than by the 
evil and threatening circumstances that 
we see all about us. Our eyes will be on 
Him and His saving presence in the 
world — on the cross, the resurrection, 
and the second coming of Christ, rather 
than on the empires of this world, 
which are, in principle, already de- 
feated, and even in their power and 
arrogance, already perishing. 

The answer to the world’s suffering is 
not for us consciously to take this suf- 
fering into ourselves. There may be 
more than a little hubris in our think- 


ing that we could do this in any case. 
The Bible has a lot to say about vicar- 
ious suffering, and there are times when 
God indeed calls us to suffer for others. 
But this is not a self-appointed suffer- 
ing. It is not something which we in 
our own self-righteousness choose to do 
for someone else. It is not something 
we look for. We share in the sufferings 
of Christ. We do not seek them out 

The kind of praise, I am talking 
about, then, is no Pollyanna optimism. 
It is no stoic denial of the suffering of 
the world. It need not pretend that 
Dachau and Auschwitz or the napaim- 
ing of Vietnamese children never hap- 
pened. In fact, most of the people I 
know who have broken through to 
genuine and lasting praise in their lives 
are people who have suffered deeply, 
people who have known evil, encoun- 
tered it directly and brutally, and yet 
somehow have gone beyond the impact 
of that evil to quiet acceptance. The 
reason Christians and the Jews can 
speak so freely about praise without 
becoming callous and indifferent to the 
sufferings of the world, is that they 
know through their own traditions, 
through the image of the suffering 
servant in Judaism and through the 
reality of the crucifixion in Christianity, 
what suffering means. 

Thus we do not have to become in- 
different to the cries of little children 
and to the pangs of nature brutalized 
because of man’s greed and indiffer- 
ence. We need not ignore the cries of 
third world mothers who watch their 
children’s bodies and minds twisted by 
hunger and malnutrition, for biblical 
religion well knows the meaning of 
suffering. Christianity is rooted in the 
cross, as well as in the resurrection. 

I have come to believe that God is 


precisely the one who always remem- 
bers the good and transforms the evil in 
our lives. Whenever there is beauty, 
truth, nobility, strength, courage, hope, 
love, kindness, freedom, God remem- 
bers these and somehow writes them 
into the very fabric of the universe. But 
the evil he “forgets.” The metaphor is 
clumsy, but we might say that God is 
“the great cosmic garbage disposal,” or, 
if you want an ecologically better meta- 
phor, “the great compost pile of the 

Now, what do I mean? What I think 
the New Testament writers are trying 
to say through the doctrine of the cross, 
is that God in Christ always takes the 
suffering, the pain, the sin, the loneli- 
ness, and the hurt of human existence 
back into himself and through what 
one writer has called “the alchemy of 
grace,” transforms these — if we will let 
him — into the possibility of new life, 
into the seedbed of the future. The suf- 
fering and the pain and the disappoint- 
ment become the fertilizer, the manure 
for the future. Out of the debris and 
ashes of human sin and suffering, God 
makes it possible for life to blossom 
again. He is the great cosmic garbage 
disposal, the great compost pile of the 
universe, and if we will give him back 
our sin and our suffering — indeed if 
we can even learn to praise Him for 
permitting these things in our lives — I 
believe we will see miracles happen. 

But can we really believe in a God 
who uses broken bodies and broken 
minds, the cries of innocent children, 
lamenting mothers, and bereaved fa- 
thers simply as the seedbed of the fu- 
ture? No, I think not, and that is not 
really what I am suggesting. At least 
7 could not believe in that kind of God. 
What I am trying to say is this: God is 
able to use the very things that seem 



counter to His purpose, the very things 
which He hates with a perfect hatred — 
he is able to use even these things to 
bring about goodness and beauty. If we 
will give our suffering and pain back 
to God in praise, he is somehow able 
to use them to bring about new life. 

It is at this point that we finally 
come face to face with the Biblical af- 
firmation of resurrection and the life to 
come. I believe Kant was right — some 
kind of immortality is a necessity for 
the moral life. For myself, if I did not 
believe that the napalmed children, the 
mongoloid babies, the six million Jews 
of the holocaust will yet somehow 
know life in all its fullness, I would 
find it very hard to praise God. 

And so we dare to praise. We even 
dare to praise God for the pain and 
suffering of the world. Will it work? 
In my own life it has made a great 
difference. But in one sense I do not 
care whether it works or not, for I 
believe we are first of all called to faith- 
fulness rather than to effectiveness. And 
perhaps in the long run, in the mercy 
of God, the life of faithfulness and the 
foolishness of commitment to a cruci- 
fied messiah will turn out to be the 
only true wisdom. That is the risk of 
faith. That is the hope of the resur- 

Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of 
Contemplation , writes this: 

What is serious to men is often trivial 
in the sight of God. What in God 
might appear to us as “play” is per- 
haps what he himself takes most 
seriously. At any rate the Lord plays 
and diverts Himself in the garden of 
his creation, and if we could let go of 
our own obsession with what we 
think is the meaning of it all, we 

might be able to hear His call and 
follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic 
dance. We do not have to go very far 
to catch echoes of that game, and of 
that dancing. When we are alone on 
a starlit night; when by chance we 
see the migrating birds in autumn 
descending on a grove of junipers to 
rest and eat; when we see children in 
a moment when they are really chil- 
dren; when we know love in our own 
hearts; or when, like the Japanese 
poet Basho we hear an old frog land 
in a quiet pond with a solitary splash 
— at such times the awakening, the 
turning inside out of all values, the 
“newness,” the emptiness and purity 
of vision that make themselves evi- 
dent, provide a glimpse of the cosmic 

For the world and time are the dance 
of the Lord in emptiness. The silence 
of the spheres is the music of a wed- 
ding feast. The more we persist in 
misunderstanding the phenomena of 
life, the more we analyze them out 
into strange finalities and complex 
purposes of our own, the more we 
involve ourselves in sadness, absurd- 
ity, and despair. But it does not 
matter much, because no despair of 
ours can alter the reality of things, or 
stain the joy of the cosmic dance 
which is always there. Indeed, we are 
in the midst of it, and it is in the 
midst of us, for it beats in our very 
blood, whether we want it to or not. 

Yet the fact remains that we are in- 
vited to forget ourselves on purpose, 
cast our awful solemnity to the winds 
and join in the general dance. 

And Rainer Maria Rilke writes: 



Tell us, poet, what is it you do? — 

I praise. 

But the deadly and the monstrous 
things, how can you bear them? 

I praise. 

But even what is nameless, what is 
anonymous, how can you call upon 

it? — t 

i praise. 

What right have you to be true in 
every disguise, beneath every mask? 

I praise. 

And how is it that both calm and 
violent things, like star and storm, 
know you for their own? — 

because I praise. 

That Board Meeting at 

Sermon on Christian Stewardship 
of Money 

by Carl W. Hensley 

I t was my good fortune recently to 
discover an original first-century letter 
written by a member of the First Chris- 
tian Church at Corinth to the Apostle 
Paul. Its contents indicate that it was a 
reply to Paul’s second letter to the 
Corinthian Church and that its basic 
concern was with Paul’s directions re- 
garding the collection of money for 
destitute Christians in Jerusalem. It 
seems that Paul’s request for the Corin- 
thians to give more money came at the 
time they were planning their annual 
financial campaign. This caused quite 
a lot of discussion and controversy in 
the Finance Committee meetings, and 
the discussion reached a fever pitch in 
one particular Board Meeting. The 
letter I found was written by Claudius, 
Chairman of the Finance Committee, 
and gave Paul the details of the discus- 
sion in what was euphemistically re- 
ferred to as “That Board Meeting.” I 
would like to share the letter with you. 

First Christian Church 
1022 First Avenue South 
Corinth, Greece 

Dear Paul, 

It is with mixed feelings that I write 
this letter. I’ve always considered you a 
good friend and have valued your ad- 
vice. However, I must tell you that 
your recent letter created a caustic con- 
troversy in our church, especially in one 
of our board meetings. As Chairman of 

The Rev. Carl W. Hensley is Auxiliary 
Professor of Preaching at Bethel Seminary, 
St. Paul, Minnesota. 

the Finance Committee, I am writing 
to give you a report, and as a friend I 
am writing for guidance for our coming 
Financial Campaign. 

After your letter was read in that 
Board Meeting, some cried, “Money, 
money — that’s all these ministers talk 
about. Why don’t they stick to spiritual 
matters?” Others objected to your con- 
stant reminders that we had made a 
pledge to help the Jerusalem Christians 
and had not yet completed collecting 
the pledge. Not all were negative com- 
ments. Some felt that you were more 
interested in our motivation than our 
money and that you were trying to tell 
us that a proper concept and practice 
of giving would deepen our Christian 
lives. Well, one thing led to another, 
and that Board Meeting finally focused 
on a debate on motives for giving our 
money. That focus pleased me (in spite 
of occasional temper flare-ups) because 
I feel that proper motivation is abso- 
lutely essential to success in a church 
financial campaign and particularly im- 
portant for the development of indi- 
vidual Christian lives. 

The first man to speak, as usual, was 
Crispus. He insisted that we stress that 
Christians should give because God 
commands that we give. That old rascal 
always thinks in terms of doing only 
what he has to do. Of course, you gave 
him some support in Second Corin- 
thians 9:13, when you wrote that our 
obedience would glorify God. His son, 



a chip off the old block, added fuel to 
his fire by pointing out that there are 
over 1,000 references to material pos- 
sessions in the Bible and that sixteen of 
Jesus’ thirty-eight parables are clearly 
concerned with the proper management 
of one’s possessions. He quickly pointed 
out that Jesus said in the Sermon on the 
Mount that only those who do the will 
of God will enter the kingdom of 
heaven (Mt. 7:21), and for good meas- 
ure quoted Jesus’ statement, “Every- 
one to whom much is given, of him 
will much be required” (Luke 12:48). 

Now, Paul, don’t get me wrong. I 
realize as well as the next man that 
allegiance to Christ means that we must 
obey God’s commands and that giving 
our money is one of his demands. But I 
wonder if this is really an adequate 
motive. If we aren’t careful, this motive 
can become a negative force. Since God 
demands that I give, I may come to re- 
gard my giving as little more than pay- 
ing my membership dues like those 
required by the Rotary and Lions 
Clubs. Or, I may end up paying God 
much like I pay the Roman I.R.S. — 
out of duty but with reluctance. It can 
be like the time my Dad gave me my 
first allowance. Every week he gave it 
to me, but he also required me to put 
part of it in a bank. So, I saved regu- 
larly because it was commanded, but 
I didn’t enjoy it much. So, Paul, I guess 
old Crispus is right about command as 
a motive, but only in part. Certainly it 
isn’t the most adequate motive. 

Well, you know how some of our 
people get along here. You once wrote 
to scold us about our quarrelsome at- 
titudes. No sooner had Crispus set forth 
his notion of the proper motive for giv- 
ing than guess who tried to shout him 
down. Eutychus was frothing at the 
mouth at what he called “the crazy 

concoction of Crispus.” That really 
heated up that old Board Meeting. 
Eutychus stood up and proudly pro- 
claimed that if Crispus and his shallow- 
headed son had any scriptural sense, 
they would know that the proper mo- 
tive for giving is to give because God 
will bless the giver. He was quick to 
quote you, Paul, for after all you did 
write that “he who sows sparingly will 
also reap sparingly, and he who sows 
bountifully will also reap bountifully” 
(2 Cor. 9:6). One of the farmers at the 
meeting pointed out that this is a sound 
law of nature. He said that he skimped 
on seed in sowing his fields one year 
and had a sparse harvest, but that the 
harvest was always more abundant 
when he sowed generously. His neigh- 
bor pointed out that his spring became 
stopped-up once so that it barely gave 
forth its supply of sweet water, and 
before long it stagnated. Then, when 
he cleaned it out so that the spring 
could give generously, it became sweet 
and free-flowing again. 

Although Crispus and some of his 
supporters were fuming at Eutychus, no 
one present could deny that the Bible 
clearly demonstrates that God does 
bless those who give. When the prophet 
Elijah fled from Israel because of fam- 
ine and found refuge with a widow in 
Sidon, God blessed both of them. I 
remember that the woman had only 
enough grain and oil left to prepare one 
more meager meal for her son and her- 
self and then succumb to starvation. 
But when she obeyed God and made a 
meal for God’s prophet first, God 
blessed her and caused her oil and 
grain to last and last until the drought 
ended (I Kings 17:8-16). No wonder 
Jesus promised, “Give, and it will be 
given to you; good measure, pressed 
down, shaken together, running over, 



will be put into your lap” (Lk. 6:38). 
I guess that is why you told us in your 
letter that “you will be enriched in 
every way for great generosity” (2 
Cor. 9:11). 

As I sat in that Board Meeting listen- 
ing, I had to agree that giving our 
money because God will bless us is a 
powerful motive. On the other hand, I 
have some reservations here as with the 
first motive. This can become a subtle, 
self-seeking motive. If we give only in 
order to get, we soon will think of 
God’s blessings as wages for our faith- 
fulness. It reminds me of a sign that I 
saw in a motel room, “Don’t smoke in 
bed. The ashes you spill may be your 
own.” Or of the poster promoting the 
local cancer contribution campaign 
whose slogan reads, “Give to conquer 
cancer because you may be the next 
victim.” This motive has led more than 
one church member to regard God as 
the great vending machine of the uni- 
verse. Put in your quarter, push the 
button, and receive full return. I decid- 
ed that Eutychus was about as right as 
Crispus. Both command and receiving 
blessings are motives for giving, but by 
themselves they seem to lack some- 

By now, everybody in that Board 
Meeting was trying to talk at the same 
time. Songster, the Chairman, was hav- 
ing “a devil of a time” (oops! pardon 
the expression) getting the board mem- 
bers to follow Aristotle’s Rules of Parlia- 
mentary Procedure. He finally was able 
to gavel the meeting to some semblance 
of order and recognized Demetrius 
next. Now, if ever there were a practi- 
cal man, it has to be Demetrius. So, 
as you might guess, he opened his re- 
marks to the Board with, “Now, men, 
let’s be practical about this thing. If 
you just stop to think about it, you 

will realize that the best motive for 
giving money is to support the church 
budget.” A few groans rose around the 
room, and someone muttered, “Not 
again! He’s played that same tune for 

Most of the murmuring was quieted 
when our Associate Minister, Quartus, 
pointed out that we are now a down- 
town church. Not many of our mem- 
bers live in the neighborhood, and those 
who do live nearby don’t have as much 
money to give. Most of our members 
live in the suburbs, some have joined 
churches where they live, and several 
others have moved away completely. 
It is difficult to meet our budget when 
people don’t give generously and regu- 
larly. “Moreover,” said Quartus, “in- 
flation is taking its toll” (as if he had 
to remind us). “The candle makers’ 
strike forced up the price of candles for 
lighting, and olive oil for those new- 
fangled lamps has to be imported at 
excessive costs. The wood dealers keep 
raising prices so that heating is out- 
rageous.” Gaius interrupted Quartus at 
this point. “Everybody knows that our 
ministers’ salaries have increased sharp- 
ly,” he asserted. “Why, when Reverend 
Stephanas was our minister, he didn’t 
ask for nearly as much money as Dr. 
Fortunatus is getting; and when Paul 
first started our church, he supported 
himself by making tents. I tell you, the 
good old days were better.” Paul, you 
were quite right when in your first let- 
ter to us you censured us for our quar- 
reling and strife. I wish that Gaius and 
a few others would heed your admoni- 
tion that the minister who plants 
Christ’s seeds and the minister who 
waters are nothing, but the only one 
who really matters is God who gives 
the growth (I Cor. 3:6). Gaius often 
lets us know that he hasn’t given an 



offering since Dr. Fortunatus has been 
our minister. With that kind of shallow 
dedication, we cannot hope for anything 
but a budget deficit. 

More members need to recognize the 
necessity of giving to meet the budget. 
As Chairman of Finance I have said 
it many times from our pulpit: The 
budget is one index of the spiritual 
health of our church. Programs must 
be maintained, and our members must 
do it. Non-members certainly can’t be 
expected to give to meet our budget! 
However, like the other motives men- 
tioned, this motive for giving can also 
become so impersonal. Giving merely 
to meet the budget can be about as 
exciting as putting quarters in a park- 
ing meter when you park your chariot 
on the Nicolaitan Mall downtown. 

By this time that Board Meeting was 
dragging into the late hours of the 
night. People were weary, and nerves 
were on edge. I was ready to move that 
we adjourn when Dionysius asked to 
speak. You probably remember Diony- 
sius well since he was one of your first 
converts at Athens. He moved to Cor- 
inth some time ago and immediately 
transferred his church membership. He 
is such a kind, considerate Christian 
gentleman. He is probably the most re- 
spected member of our church. So, 
those who had been arguing about 
various motives gave him their atten- 

“Gentlemen,” he said courteously, 
“there are some aspects of Paul’s letter 
that we have overlooked. I was im- 
pressed that he used the Macedonian 
Christians as examples for us. We 
know, as Paul reminds us, that they 
are financially poor — much more eco- 
nomically depressed than we are. Yet, 
Paul says that their giving ‘overflowed 
in a wealth of liberality’ and that they 

gave ‘beyond their means.’ Why, they 
even begged Paul earnestly for the 
favor of giving (2 Cor. 8:3-4). Why? 
What was their motive? Maybe Paul 
captured the proper motive in 9:15, 
‘Thanks be to God for his inexpressible 

As Dionysius said this, it sent my 
thoughts back to John 3:16, “For God 
so loved the world that he gave his 
only Son.” If God loves us to that ex- 
tent, then our commitment to him 
ought to be a love that expresses itself 
in generous giving. Dionysius caught 
my attention again as he pointed out 
that you stressed in 8:5 that the Mace- 
donians gave themselves to the Lord 
first. Giving oneself to God completely 
is the fundamental response to God’s 
love expressed in Christ. Said Diony- 
sius firmly but graciously, “Giving self 
to God first is the heart of Christian 
giving. Then, generous giving of one’s 
money is an expression of how com- 
pletely God has won the person’s 

I remember attending a Regional 
Convention held at Central Christian 
Church in Troy where my good friend 
Corax ministers. I was sitting with his 
wife and five-year-old son, Tisias, dur- 
ing Sunday morning worship. Corax 
had given Tisias a small amount of 
change to carry in his toga pocket. 
When offering time came, he whispered 
to his mother that he wanted to give 
his money in the offering. He took an 
offering envelope from the pew holder, 
but then looked perplexed. Printed on 
the envelope were names of various 
Christian endeavors and institutions to 
which givers could designate their of- 
ferings. His mother tried to explain 
that he could give to the general fund, 
to the Greek Theological Seminary, to 
the Apostle Paul Prison Fund, etc. In 



a somewhat exasperated tone, Tisias 
replied, “But, Mom, I just want to give 
my money to God.” In his own simple 
five-year-old way, Tisias captured the 
essential motive for a Christian to give 
his money. 

“First we give ourselves to God,” 
Dionysius was saying as my attention 
came back from the Regional Assembly 
to that Board Meeting, “and then giv- 
ing our money flows naturally and gen- 
erously out of that commitment.” That 
reminded me of a statement made by 
one of the speakers at the Regional 
Meeting. I believe it was that college 
professor who taught the combined 
adult classes in Sunday School. He said 
that “to give and keep on giving is the 
essential nature of love for God. Love 
can never be tight-fisted, appeal-orient- 
ed, or issue centered. It is impelled by 
the essential character of its being to 
share, to sacrifice, to give generously. 
A Christian’s giving can never be an 
occasional performance. It must always 
be a normal, steady, and increasing out- 
flow of life in God.” 

By this time, Paul, Dionysius was 
calling our attention to your statement 
that Jesus himself is our example. Be- 
cause Jesus gave himself totally to God 
first, he gave up all of his heavenly 
riches and became humanly poor for 
our sakes (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus’ commit- 
ment and love for God motivated him 
to give up his power for impotence, his 
dignity for ignominy, and his prestige 
and privilege for persecution and cru- 
cifixion. Love for this Lord certainly 
would put our giving on a proper plain. 

Well, Paul, it was Dionysius who set 
us straight in that Board Meeting. He 
gave me insights that will help me and 
my Committee to shape our approach 
to the people this year. We must help 

church members to see that stewardship 
is not a clever scheme to raise money. 
Rather, they must see that it is a path- 
way to producing solid Christian char- 
acter and that character committed to 
Christ is more crucial than cash. I am 
convinced that our church has not 
reached the saturation point in what we 
are capable of giving, but I am also 
convinced that we have reached the 
saturation point in what we will give 
in our present stage of commitment. 
The remedy is not command, reward, 
or budget appeals. The remedy is con- 
version to God that brings the rule of 
Christ to the center of our lives. When 
we give ourselves to Christ first, then 
we will give our money as never before. 

Paul, I want our people to experi- 
ence the joy of a love that leads them 
to commit 10% of their incomes to 
God. After all, tithing is a firm biblical 
guide to giving. I want them to give 
their lives to God so that their love for 
Him will motivate them to give 10% 
off of the top and not give Him left- 
overs and scraps. 

Well, old friend, this has been a 
long, rambling letter, but I wanted 
you to know all about that old Board 
Meeting. If you still have your sense of 
humor after struggling through this 
epistle, maybe you can appreciate a 
comic strip that appeared in the Co- 
rinthian Star and Tribune the other 
day. Pogo the possum was fishing, and 
a duck came by. “Howdy, Pogo,” he 
says, “is you seed my cousin? He’s 
migratin’ north by kiddie car.” “A duck 
migratin’ by kiddie car?” quizzes Pogo. 
“Yep. He’s afeared to fly high; he gets 
afeared he might fall off.” Pogo asks, 
“Why doesn’t he swim?” “He gets 
seasick.” Then Pogo makes an astute 
observation for a possum, “All I can 



say is that when he decided to be a 
duck, he picked the wrong business.” 
Paul, I guess that if a Christian is 
not willing to give God his life first and 
then give generously at least 10% of his 

income out of that love, he is like a 
duck migrating north in a kiddie car — 
he picked the wrong business. 

Your Friend in Christ, 

Return from Captivity: 
New Steps for the 
Urban Church 

Sermon by Roderic P. Frohman 

Text: Ezra 7:11-14. 

W here were you this past Tuesday 
at 1 :oo p.m. Mountain Daylight 
Time? This past Tuesday, I stood on 
the summit of Longs Peak in the Rocky 
Mountains, 14,256 feet above sea level. 
The climb and the view was the most 
spectacular of my hiking history. The 
view from 14,000 feet is a vista most 
people see only from an airplane. To 
the southeast, seventy miles away, I 
could see the tiny skyscrapers of Den- 
ver. To the north, all the way into 
Wyoming. To the west, half way to 
Utah. And below me in a 2500-foot 
vertical drop was the cobalt blue Chasm 

It is very hard to describe the feeling 
of exhilaration, the impression of tri- 
umph, the perspective, the sense of hav- 
ing your entire system cleaned. Time 
and time again as I contemplated the 
scene, the following statement would 
cross my mind: “In the wilderness is 
the preservation of the world.” I did 
feel somewhat preserved and renewed. 
Standing there on top of that moun- 
tain peak, I could not see the “crossings 
of the crowded ways of life,” nor could 
I hear “the cries of race and clan.” I 
could hear only the roar of the wind, 
see the beauty of the wilderness, and 
feel the absolute majesty of it all. 

But because I have lived in the city 

A native of Detroit, the Rev. Roderic 
P. Frohman, is minister of the First Presby- 
terian Church, Gary , Indiana. An alumnus of 
the University of California at Berkeley and 
Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.), 
Mr. Frohman has a friend who submitted this 
sermon to your editor with this comment: 
“Frohman acquired at Princeton that new 
spirit of proclamation — a commitment to 
preparation of sermons that inform, define, 
and relate the biblical elan to the contempo- 
rary ennui." 

Nehemiah 1 :i- 2 :io 

since I was nine years old, I always find 
myself comparing the city with the 
wilderness. Why can’t we say, “In the 
city is the preservation of the world”? 
I have been disturbed lately with very 
negative attitudes many folks have to- 
ward the city. Everyone gripes about 
the city. The complaints are true and 
numerous: bad streets, bad housing, 
bad schools, bad transportation, high 
taxes, high cost of living, muggings, 
rapes, robberies. Sound familiar? You 
bet, and not only are the comments 
made about city services, or the lack 
thereof, but the urban church gets 
thrown in there, too. “I don’t want to 
go there to worship,” you may have 
heard someone exclaim. “I get depressed 
because the sanctuary is two thirds 
empty.” Or, “Old First has no future 
because they keep digging into the en- 
dowment to pay the heating bill.” 
Or, “All those kids that hang out on 
the steps make me nervous.” Or, “How 
come the doors are always locked? I 
thought churches were supposed to be 
open.” Consequently the statement, “In 
the city is the preservation of the 
world,” seems to be the height of folly. 

Why does it seem to be folly? Be- 
cause we are living in a time of captiv- 
ity. We, people of the city, have been 
taken into a mental and spiritual cap- 



tivity which rivals the Babylonian cap- 
tivity of the Hebrew people. The litany 
I have just recited about the woes of 
cities and churches is the same sad 
song we read in Psalm 137. “By the 
waters of Babylon we sat down and 
wept when we remembered Zion. 
There on the willow trees we hung our 
harps, and our captors demanded of us 
songs saying, ‘Sing to us one of the 
Songs of Zion.’ ” 

How were we captured? First of all, 
we have been captured because the 
battle for the city has been loud and 
long. We have suffered battle fatigue. 
Secondly, we have been captured be- 
cause we have not been equipped with 
the proper tactics to fight the battle. 


The battle for us began in the 1950’s 
when the first signs of battle fatigue 
began to take place. The Princeton so- 
ciologist, Gibson Winter, has appropri- 
ately named this fatigue “the suburban 
captivity of the churches,” in which 
there was a rapid exit from the cities 
in the 1950’s and 1960’s to surrounding 
suburbs spurred on by the ready avail- 
ability of FHA capital after the war. 
There was an attempted renaissance of 
the city during the Great Society era, 
but incredible mismanagement of funds 
by contractors with the government led 
to wholesale breakdown of urban re- 
construction. Urban renewal brought 
some reconstruction, but it brought ur- 
ban destruction and forced relocation of 
which the vast empty lots of our central 
cities testify. The beginning of the 
Nixon era first brought the urban policy 
of benign neglect of Daniel Moynihan 
and ended with the convulsive exit 
policies of the attempted dismantling 
of HUD and OEO. If the policies of 
the public sector were not enough, the 

private sector financing of commercial 
and residential investment dried up. 
We know this withdrawal of invest- 
ment dollars as “redlining.” 

The Church had its own battle tactics 
to save the city, but soon found itself 
out-classed and out-gunned by the prin- 
cipalities and powers that be. Many 
churches followed in the social service 
tradition of the Detroit Industrial Mis- 
sion and other urban models which pro- 
vided a needed and valuable style of 
urban ministry of the 1950’s and early 
1960’s. As the Civil Rights Movement 
moved north and the Vietnam War 
developed, urban reconstruction tactics 
by churches were characterized by a 
wholesale adoption of the politics and 
tactics of protest. 

As an almost unconscious religious 
affirmation of Lyndon Johnson’s Great 
Society, Harvey Cox wrote Secular City 
and Gibson Winter wrote The New 
Creation as Metropolis to give Chris- 
tians some theological ammunition for 
urban existence. Well, scarcely was the 
ink dry on the manuscripts when our 
major cities erupted in the long hot 
summer of 1967 and 1968. Black rage 
was generated against the very institu- 
tions celebrated by Cox and Winter. 
From the cauldrons of the long hot 
summers were forged many exclusivist 
theologies of liberation, some of which 
have been useful and some of which 
have turned into a bitter narrowness of 
the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. 

Since the early 1970’s we find our- 
selves in a captivity of fatigue and 
broken spirits brought upon partly by 
the intensity of combating urban life 
and partly because of the worn out 
tactics of the protest used in that battle. 
Gone are the days of glamorous urban 
ministry. We find ourselves mocked by 
the memories of the “good old days” 



as we are tormented by the captivity 
of nostalgia. “Why can’t things be like 
they used to be,” we sigh. This is the 
biblical equivalent of capitulating to 
“sing to us one of the Songs of Zion.” 


How Can We Return from Our 
Captivity? How Do We Come out of 

In this time of captivity, we turn 
again to the scriptures and are amazed 
to find people of faith who have actual- 
ly been lower than we are, yet who have 
returned from captivity to re-establish 
themselves and their faith. There were 
two ancient people whose role in re- 
building the nation of Israel are the 
example for city churches to follow to- 
day. They are Ezra and Nehemiah. 

Nehemiah was the cupbearer for 
King Artaxerxes; Ezra was a priest and 
scribe in exile in Babylon. What Ne- 
hemiah did for the body politic of 
Judaism, Ezra did for the soul. In the 
Old Testament, understanding of faith, 
the two parts of nurture and mission, 
Ezra and Nehemiah, are inseparable. 
And so must be our understanding of 
urban ministry in the last quarter of 
the 20th century. 

Nehemiah’s mission was to rebuild 
the walls and political structures of a 
fallen Israel. Like Joseph, the cupbearer 
to the Egyptian Pharaoh, Nehemiah 
felt very intensely about the land of his 
forefathers. When he heard of the con- 
dition of his kinsmen in their life 
amidst the fire-ruined rubble of Neb- 
uchadnezzar’s urban renewal program, 
he wept and mourned for days as 
many of us have mourned the slow 
strangulation death of many of our 
own cities. But Nehemiah was not con- 
tent to sing the songs of Zion in Baby- 
lon. He requested the king send him 
back across the windswept grasslands 

of the fertile crescent to Jerusalem “to 
the city and graves of my fathers that 
I may rebuild it.” Artaxerxes sent him 
as the governor of the Babylonian prov- 
ince of Judah in 444 B.C. There in Jeru- 
salem he found the city in rubble and 
the political and religious structures in- 
effective and oppressive. The conditions 
are catalogues in the Book of Malachi. 
The record of Nehemiah is impressive. 
There he discreetly used his authority 
as Governor; he re-wrote many of the 
civil laws for the city; and he took 
a housing census and began an urban 
housing program. He treated with jus- 
tice the needs of the destitute of the 
city; he called a general meeting of 
Jerusalem residents and informed them 
of his intentions to rebuild the walls of 
the City; and then went about his 
work, politely listening to the gripers, 
foot-draggers and opposers of progress 
and then ignoring them when they 
needed to be ignored. 

Nehemiah was not alone in his ef- 
forts. His contemporary was Ezra, the 
rabbi and scribe. Ezra’s contribution 
made Nehemiah’s work possible. Ezra 
brought the Torah to Jerusalem, the 
first five books of the Bible that had 
been painfully written down by Jews 
in exile. This single act so inspired and 
revitalized the worship of God in Jeru- 
salem, that Israel, a nation crippled and 
on its knees from the oppressors’ whip, 
stood up. In bringing back this worship 
code to Jerusalem, Ezra gave the peo- 
ple a reason to rebuild the city. It 
symbolized that God had re-entered 
Jerusalem and Hebrew worship cele- 
brated that the obituary of the city had 
been prematurely written. 

The perspective of Ezra and Nehe- 
miah points to a whole new strategy of 
urban ministry. If people of a congrega- 
tion are going to be involved in urban 
ministry, then they must develop min- 



istries that build the congregation as a 
worshipping-nurturing community of 
people. People come to church because 
they need and want the saving and ac- 
cepting power of Jesus Christ. People 
cannot survive unless they have power 
and energy to survive. The Church is 
where you get the power to live. 

It has been my experience that wor- 
ship and the nurture that worship 
affords is the very life-source and ener- 
gizer of urban ministry. It became pop- 
ular during the i96o’s to depreciate 
worship, to say that Sunday morning 
was secondary or tertiary. This mythol- 
ogy espoused the notion that real rele- 
vance, and hence the kingdom of God, 
was only to be discovered on the street 
and that Jesus was only found in the 
marketplace of the Secular City. As 
one who has worked the streets, and 
poolhalls, broad avenues and board 
rooms of several major cities in the past 
ten years, as one who has worked with 
senior citizens and counter culture hip- 
pies, as one who has helped tear down 
houses and get houses rehabilitated, as 
one who has seen strong men burn out 
and dynamic women turn sour, as one 
who has seen empty churches, full 
churches and struggling churches par- 
ticipate in all of these ministries, I can 
say with confidence that the people and 
the churches which are effective today 
are those who like Ezra, have taken the 
time to realize that man does not live 
by bread alone, but by the redemptive 
and restorative Word that proceeds out 
of the mouth of God. 


Let me say the same thing in non- 
religious terms: Urban ministry that is 
effective is that which enhances the 
self-interest of the urban church as an 
organization. Like Nehemiah in Jeru- 
salem, so too, we of the Church of 

Jesus Christ must not be afraid of dis- 
creetly using our authority as leaders 
in the city. My experience has been 
that churches who dare to take leader- 
ship in the city and community, in the 
name of the church, infuse the city 
and the congregation itself with a vigor 
of faith and hope that social service 
organizations, community organiza- 
tions and city agencies cannot provide. 
There is nothing magical about this 
phenomenon. It is just a fact of urban 
life. People still trust the church and 
look to and expect the church to be 
leaders in the city. 

The example of Ezra and Nehemiah 
also means a given congregation must 
be careful not to burn out. It is my firm 
conviction that without the city church, 
urban life becomes strident and mean- 
ingless and cut-throat. Therefore, the 
city church must minister in a way that 
builds its own financial resources, rather 
than blows them away in short-term, 
low-yield projects. City churches must 
pick three or four projects on which to 
work, and not twenty or thirty. City 
churches must work on winable issues, 
not on vast social problems. City 
churches must work on issues that 
build citizen power through independ- 
ent, non-partisan citizen organizations. 

I began this sermon with the state- 
ment of folly, “In the city is the pres- 
ervation of the world.” What I have 
lifted up for you today is that “In the 
church is the preservation of the city.” 

We have a great opportunity ahead 
of us in the next few years. Today the 
spirit of the Lord is upon us and we 
hear the good news of the prophet: 
“They shall build up the ancient ruins, 
they shall raise up the former devasta- 
tions, they shall repair the ruined cities, 
the devastations of many generations. 
They shall be restorers of streets in 
which to dwell.” 

God’s Affirmative Action 

Sermon by Daniel L. Migliore 

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., the Rev. Daniel 
L. Migliore is an alumnus of Westminster 
College, Pa. (A.B.), Princeton Theological 
Seminary ( M.Div .), and Princeton University 
(Ph.D.). Since 11)62 Dr. Migliore has taught 
at Princeton in the Department of Theology 
and is the author of many reviews and 
articles in professional journals. This sermon 
was given in the Nassau Presbyterian Church, 
Princeton, N.f. in the summer of 1978. 

Text: Matt. 20:1-16 

T he parables of Jesus speak to us 
again and again with astonishing 
power. They capture us with their sim- 
plicity, their vivid imagery, their real- 
ism. Above all, the parables of Jesus 
seize our attention and stretch our 
imagination by their daring comparison 
of the kingdom of God with everyday 

The parables refer us to our com- 
mon, familiar world of experience for 
hints and intimations of the kingdom 
of God. Nothing could be farther from 
abstract speculation about God than 
the parables of Jesus. They speak of 
God indirectly by pointing to the ele- 
ment of surprise in the dramas of daily 
life. The parables of Jesus do not draw 
us away from the everyday world but 
into the mystery of God’s grace and 
judgment in the midst of our world. 
By confronting us with the extraordi- 
nary dimension of ordinary events, the 
parables challenge us to decide whether 
we are really open and ready for the 
kingdom of God. 

Like all the parables of Jesus, the 
parable of the workers in the vineyard 
compels us to think about the presence 
and purpose of God in relation to the 
most mundane affairs. This parable 
plunges us into the ambiguous world 
of work and unemployment, of con- 
tracts and negotiations, of pay scales 

and bonuses, of charges of injustice and 

Perhaps the setting of the parable in 
the tough world of economics is one 
reason why it has never enjoyed the 
popularity of such parables as the Good 
Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. Think- 
ing of God’s grace and judgment in 
terms of personal encounters or family 
relationships comes much easier to us 
than does thinking of the presence of 
God in the economic and political 
spheres of life. 

There is, however, a second reason 
why the parable of the workers in the 
vineyard is troublesome for us. Quite 
frankly we find ourselves identifying 
with the characters of the story who are 
reprimanded at the end. We find our- 
selves asking whether the workers who 
registered a complaint did not have a 
point, whether payment could not have 
been made to all the workers in a gen- 
erous but less provocative way, whether 
the decision of the owner was not 
reached and defended in a rather arbi- 
trary manner. No doubt this parable 
triggers more defensive responses than 
do most parables of Jesus. Who feels 
any sympathy for the Priest and the 
Levite who crossed to the other side 
when they saw the wounded person 
lying on the road? Who does not feel 
some sympathy for those who have 



worked hardest and longest in the par- 
able of the workers in the vineyard? 

But perhaps this parable has special 
importance for us precisely because we 
find it unsettling and even irritating. 
If we look at the story a little more 
closely, we may discover that the situa- 
tion it describes has an uncanny resem- 
blance to our own. The parable of the 
workers in the vineyard is a story about 
a surprising act of generosity that 
stretches our understanding of justice 
to the utmost limits; it is a story about 
a controversy over preferential treat- 
ment, about a kind of “affirmative ac- 
tion” taken by an employer and the 
deep resentment which this arouses in 
honest, respectable people. 

The plot of the parable is clear and 
simple. The story moves quickly to the 
dramatic confrontation between the 
owner of the vineyard and his embit- 
tered workers. The characters are real- 
life figures rather than the super-heroes 
and the arch-villains of fantasy. Look 
again at each of them. 


There is, first, the owner of the vine- 
yard. He is obviously the central figure 
of the story. He is portrayed as a com- 
petent and experienced manager of his 
property. The time for the harvest of 
the grapes has come, and he realizes he 
has need of a large labor force. If the 
grapes are not harvested promptly, they 
will begin to spoil or may even be de- 
stroyed by heavy rain or pestilence. 
Very early in the morning he goes to 
town to hire a group of workers. He 
enters into an agreement with them to 
pay one denarius each for a day’s work. 
Whatever the equivalent value of this 
coin in today’s currency, we are no 
doubt to understand that it was con- 
sidered a fair day’s wage at that time. 

After a few hours, the owner sees that 
he needs additional workers. So he goes 
out again to hire others, a second, a 
third, a fourth time, promising in each 
case to pay a fair wage. Finally, late in 
the day, on his fifth excursion to town, 
he discovers some unemployed people 
still standing around in the market- 
place. He needs their help, brief as it 
will be, just as they need whatever they 
may earn for themselves and their fam- 
ilies; so he sends them to work in the 
vineyard with the others. 

When the time comes for paying the 
workers, we find that the owner is more 
than a hard-working, well-organized, 
prudent, scrupulous businessman. He 
is also a person of unusual generosity. 
He instructs his paymaster to give a 
denarius, a full day’s wage, to all the 
workers, including those who entered 
the fields late in the day. When the 
workers hired first grumbled because 
they did not receive more than the 
others, the owner defended his action. 
He had not done anyone an injustice 
although he had exceeded what justice, 
narrowly construed, would have re- 
quired. He had exercised his freedom 
in a most surprising way. He had been 
generous to those who seemed to count 
least. He had favored those who would 
have received very little had they been 
paid strictly according to scale. To the 
complaining workers his action seemed 
unfair and scandalous. But why should 
it not be celebrated rather than criti- 
cized? His purpose had not been to 
undermine justice but to be generous 
to those most in need of it. 


Now consider the workers who re- 
ceived the unexpected wage. We can 
easily imagine how they felt. They 
were astonished and we hope, very 



grateful. Late that afternoon they had 
been hanging around in the market- 
place with nothing to do and little to 
look forward to. True, we are not told 
that unemployment was a familiar con- 
dition for these people, that their status 
today was a repetition of yesterday and 
the many days before that. Nor are we 
told that without work they would be 
unable to secure the necessities of life 
for themselves and their families. But 
why do we have to be told these 
things? We do not have to be told that 
rain falls downward or that it is wet. 
In any case, there is nothing in the 
parable to support the assumption that 
these people, still unemployed late in 
the day, were lazy or incompetent. 
When the owner of the vineyard asked 
them why they were still idle so late in 
the day, they replied: “Because no one 
has hired us.” We have no reason to 
call this a lame excuse. It was a simple 
statement of fact. They had not been 
given the same chance to work as the 

The town market in the ancient 
world was the place where those seek- 
ing work gathered. The fact that work- 
ers were still in the marketplace at the 
last hour of the working day is proof 
that they wanted to work. Evidently 
they had been passed over when others 
were hired, but if so, we are not told 
why. We are told only that when the 
opportunity to work came to them, they 
seized it. They went into the fields even 
if only for a brief period and for what 
would surely be a tiny wage, far from 
adequate to meet their needs and the 
needs of those dependent on them. We 
have little difficulty imagining their 
joy, their new hope, their emergent self- 
respect when they were finally hired 
and unexpectedly received for their la- 
bor a full day’s pay. 


Consider, finally, the workers who 
were hired first. They were honest, in- 
dustrious, reliable people. Hired early, 
they were already at work in the fields 
shortly after dawn. Having agreed to a 
wage which seemed fair to them, they 
did what they had contracted to do. 
They worked hard all day long while 
the sun beat down on them. At the end 
of the day, the owner had no criticism 
of their work, none whatsoever. Indeed, 
he called their representative, “friend.” 
But it was precisely because they had 
done their work so well that these 
workers were outraged when they re- 
ceived no more for their labor than did 
those who worked only one hour. 
These protestors were not trouble- 
makers. They were decent folk insisting 
on justice and fair play. They had 
nothing against their fellow workers. 
They simply felt that it was unfair of 
the employer to favor those who had 
worked least by giving everyone the 
same wage. We who put so much em- 
phasis on reward according to achieve- 
ment and merit can certainly under- 
stand their indignation, their resent- 
ment, their bitterness. If the owner 
wanted to be generous, why was he not 
impartial in his generosity? Why did 
he not give everyone what he deserved 
plus a bonus to all? 

We are not told how these workers 
responded when the owner explained 
that their complaint was rooted in jeal- 
ousy rather than justice, that they had 
received what they had been promised, 
and that they seemed unable to ap- 
prove an act which brought unexpected 
benefit and joy to others. However, 
the possibility that the confrontation 
ended in deep alienation is indicated 



by the word of the owner to these 
workers: “Take your pay and go.” 

In order to allow this parable to 
make its point as sharply as possible, 
we must ask about the particular situa- 
tion to which it is addressed. The par- 
able has a history, and its message has 
been addressed to different audiences. 
In its original setting in the life and 
ministry of Jesus the parable of the 
workers in the vineyard, like the par- 
able of the prodigal son, most probably 
was Jesus’ answer to those who criti- 
cized his ministry of forgiveness and 
reconciliation among sinners and de- 
spised people. Jesus befriended these 
people and even ate at the same table 
with them. According to Jesus’ critics, it 
was outrageous that lawbreakers and 
outcasts should be invited into the king- 
dom of God along with devout, spiritu- 
ally superior, law-abiding people. Was 
it not a blasphemous parody of the 
justice of God for these sinners to be 
treated just like the righteous? 

So Jesus told the story of the owner 
of a vineyard who acted with what we 
might call “benign partiality.” “I want 
to give to those who were hired last the 
same as I give to you,” says the owner 
to his critics. His act is partial in the 
sense that it cannot be justified by the 
principle of exact proportion between 
achievement and reward. But his par- 
tiality is benign because it aims not at 
the elevation of some people over others 
but at the good of all; not at the ex- 
clusion of some but at the inclusion of 
all. In its original setting, this is a par- 
able of the freedom of God to extend 
forgiveness and acceptance to the out- 
cast and the despised. 

There is, however, a double-edge to 
the parable. It describes not only the 
benign partiality of the owner of the 
vineyard but also the hostility and re- 

sentment which this arouses. The par- 
able emphasizes both the mystery of 
grace and the resentment which this 
meets in persons who anxiously guard 
their special status and rank. The par- 
able thus gives expression to a central 
theme of the ministry of Jesus and of 
the message of the whole Bible: the 
partiality of God toward those con- 
sidered least deserving and the resent- 
ment which this creates. The partiality 
of God toward the poor and the outcast, 
toward the losers and latecomers of this 
world, arouses hostility among decent, 
law-abiding persons who are inclined 
to cloak their resentment in self-serv- 
ing conceptions of justice. 

Already in the Gospel of Matthew 
the parable has been readdressed. The 
message of the benign partiality of God 
and the resentment which this encoun- 
ters is directed now to the church and 
indeed to the leaders and long-standing 
members of the church. Matthew sets 
the parable in the context of questions 
of the disciples as to whether they will 
be specially rewarded for their long 
and faithful service. Will they not re- 
ceive more for their service than other 
Christians? It is now the followers of 
Jesus who must be addressed by the par- 
able once addressed to the Pharisees and 
critics of Jesus. The parable now speaks 
to the church of Matthew’s time, mak- 
ing the same point but cutting a differ- 
ent way: Do not try to limit God’s 
goodness toward people you consider 
less deserving than you. If you do, you 
may be spiritually destroyed by your 
own resentment and bitterness. 

Today the parable must once again 
be readdressed. It must be addressed to 
us here and now. We are the ones who 
are now questioned by the parable. Are 
we ready for the kingdom of God? Do 



we begrudge God’s goodness? Do we 
resent God’s benign partiality? 

We begin to grasp the concrete mean- 
ing of this parable for us when we listen 
to it in the context of the controversy 
about affirmative action programs in 
American society today. Affirmative ac- 
tion refers to positive steps taken by 
the institutions of our society, by cor- 
porations, unions, universities, profes- 
sions, churches, to bring more people 
who have been demonstrably disadvan- 
taged by chronic racial and sexual dis- 
crimination into the mainstream of the 
life of our society. 

As the Supreme Court decision in 
the Bakke case and public reactions to 
that decision show, the American peo- 
ple are not at all unanimous about the 
principle of affirmative action and even 
less agreed as to the proper ways to 
implement it. Christians cannot pretend 
to have specially revealed, ready-made 
answers to the difficult questions of how 
such programs can be fairly adminis- 
tered. Certainly we cannot suggest any- 
thing so naive as that the parable of the 
workers in the vineyard provides a blue- 
print for such programs. But the mes- 
sage of the parable can and should 
shape and reshape our attitudes as 
Christians toward affirmative action. 
An affirmative action program in a 
business, a university, a church agency 
may be a concrete parable of the king- 
dom of God. Why should Christians 
today not be sensitive and imaginative 
and free enough to discern in affirma- 
tive action a hint, a parable of the grace 
and judgment of God in our society? 

Any attentive reading of the parable 
of the workers in the vineyard or indeed 
of the Bible as a whole must recognize 
that there is something like partiality in 
the grace of God, that God is benignly 
partial to the weak, the poor, the out- 

cast, the disadvantaged, and that this 
outrageous partiality of grace makes 
strong, hard-working, successful, decent 
people terribly vulnerable to the temp- 
tations of bitterness and resentment. 

The parable of the workers in the 
vineyard warns that there are great 
dangers in this resentment of decent 
persons to God’s partiality toward the 
disadvantaged. We should heed these 
warnings as we confront the issue of 
affirmative action in our universities 
and professional schools, in our police 
and fire departments, and in the gov- 
erning bodies of churches across the 


In the first place, we are warned not 
to allow a spirit of resentment to blind 
us to the chance to love. The owner of 
the vineyard gave the workers hired 
first more than their just wage. He gave 
them a secret gift. He gave them the 
opportunity to love, the chance to re- 
joice in the well-being of others, the 
possibility of saying yes to those in 
need. The chance to love is the chance 
to be truly human. 


Second, we are warned not to over- 
look the privileged treatment we have 
enjoyed. The workers hired first failed 
to recognize that there was something 
inscrutable and mysterious about the 
fact that they had been hired first 
whereas, for unknown reasons, others 
had been hired later and some not until 
the last hour. Perhaps those hired first 
believed it was because they were more 
industrious, stronger, more intelligent, 
but who could say this was true beyond 
the shadow of a doubt? Was there not 
an element of mystery, of grace, in their 
being selected first, and was it not there- 



fore a little too self-congratulatory to 
pretend that they had not also received 
special favor? 

In his statement on the Bakke case, 
Justice Blackmun noted that many 
people are disturbed about a program 
of admissions where race is an element 
of consciousness, a factor in decision- 
making, yet all of us know very well 
that “institutions of higher learning . . . 
have given conceded preferences to 
those possessed of athletic skills, to the 
children of alumni, to the affluent who 
may bestow their largess on the institu- 
tions, and to those having connections 
with celebrities, the famous and the 
powerful.” In other words, we wink at 
preferential treatment as long as it 
benefits us. Our resentment therefore 
threatens to turn us into hypocrites. 


Third and finally, the result of resent- 
ment to the working of grace in our 
common life is that people who are 
otherwise friendly, hard-working, re- 
sponsible folk become estranged from 
the source of life and goodness which 
sustains us all. There is no apocalyptic 
scene of judgment in the parable, no 
wailing and gnashing of teeth, no stok- 
ing of eternal fires. There is only the 
word of the owner to his resentful 
workers: “Take your pay and go.” In 
the early hours of the morning, owner 
and workers had been of one spirit; 
later in the day all the workers had 
labored together toward a common 
goal. Where once there was communion 
and solidarity, there is now estrange- 
ment and hostility. “Take your pay 
and go.” This final word of separation 
is judgment enough. 

God’s love for the despised and mar- 

ginated people of this world is the 
original and irrevocable case of affirma- 
tive action. “In Christ all the promises 
of God are Yes” (2 Cor. 1:20). God’s 
mighty Yes to us in Jesus Christ is 
unique. We have all been included in 
his affirmative action. God forgives sin- 
ners, God reconciles those at enmity 
with him and with others, God lib- 
erates the oppressed. And all the resent- 
ment with which we respond to his 
affirmative action he takes into himself 
in the passion of his Son on Golgotha. 
This affirmative action of God is not to 
be confused, not to be identified with 
the little affirmative actions which we 
are called to take in our schools, our 
churches, our factories. God’s kingdom 
is not to be confused with our programs 
of justice and freedom for all. All of 
our programs are fallible and in need of 
continuous criticism and reform. We 
are capable of doing terrible things with 
good intentions. Nevertheless, while our 
small affirmative actions are never iden- 
tical with God’s kingdom, they may be 
parables, hints, anticipations of that 
kingdom, and herein they have their 
importance and their urgency. 

So in a time when the pros and cons 
of affirmative action programs in our 
society will be increasingly debated, in 
a time when the backlash against such 
programs is probably on the rise, it is 
good to consider anew the message of 
this parable of the workers in the vine- 
yard, this parable of an act of benign 
partiality and of the ensuing resentment 
which leads to estrangement. “Do you 
begrudge my generosity?” asks the 
owner of his aggrieved workers. This 
question once addressed to the critics 
of Jesus and then to his early followers 
is now addressed to us. 

Not by Bread Alone 

A Lenten Homily 
by Thomas W. Mann 

A native of Durham, N.C., the Rev. Thom- 
as W. Mann is an alumnus of the University 
of North Carolina and Yale University Di- 
vinity School (B.D. & Ph.D.). Since 1974 
he has been a member of the faculty of 
Biblical Studies at Princeton Theological 
Seminary and is the author of Divine Presence 
and Guidance in Israelite Traditions: The 
Typology of Exaltation (Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity Press, /977J. This homily was given at 
a regular Chapel Service on the Princeton 

Text: Deuteronomy 8 

I must confess that I have prepared 
this sermon with considerable fear 
and trembling. Those who presume to 
preach on the book of Deuteronomy 
will be immune from such trepidation 
only to their peril. After all, any sermon 
on Deuteronomy is already a sermon 
on a sermon, and the latter is attributed 
to no less a preacher than Moses, who, 
everyone knows, was the greatest 
preacher who ever lived. 

We approach this text in the spirit of 
the Lenten season. Traditionally, this is 
a season of giving up, a period of re- 
linquishing, and this relinquishing 
often takes the form of fasting. Lent is 
a time for giving up the bread of life, 
as a symbol of that deeper relinquish- 
ing of the soul in penitential contem- 
plation. And, in recent years, fasting 
has become a sign of participation in a 
world where relinquishing the bread of 
life is simply not an option for millions 
of people. 

In the light of this, it would seem, at 
first glance, that Deuteronomy 8 is a 
text most fitting for the Lenten season. 
Just as Lent traditionally covers forty 
days, so our text is concerned with 
forty years. Like Lent, this period is 
seen as a time of affliction and hunger, 
a period of discipline and testing, 

through which the wilderness genera- 
tion came to know the Lord. Just as in 
Lent we look forward to the new life 
of the resurrection, so in our text Israel 
looks forward to the new life in the 
promised land. And, above all, our text 
contains the classic line, quoted by 
Jesus in his own period of fasting and 
temptation: “humankind does not live 
by bread alone, but humankind lives by 
everything which proceeds from the 
mouth of the Lord.” 

But, as fitting as the text may seem 
for Lent, those who read the whole 
chapter carefully will, I suspect, per- 
ceive a certain irony. The irony lies in 
the fact that the text speaks not only 
about affliction and hunger, but also 
about affluence and satiety. It speaks 
not only about the wilderness, but also 
about the good and fertile land, “a land 
of fountains and springs, a land of 
wheat and barley, a land in which you 
will eat bread without scarcity, in which 
you will lack nothing.” How is one to 
understand this juxtaposition? Why 
does the author speak of hunger and 
satiety in the same breath? What do 
the afflictions of the wilderness wan- 
dering have to do with the good life 
in the new land? And, most of all, 
what does it mean to say, in this con- 


text, that “humankind does not live by 
bread alone, but by every word which 
proceeds from the mouth of Yahweh”? 

I want to make just two observations 
about what the text is saying, in con- 
nection with the observance of Lent. 


In the first place, the author shows a 
tremendous appreciation for the bless- 
ings of life. Bread and wine, herds and 
flocks, silver and gold, are not intrin- 
sically evil, and the relinquishment of 
the bread of life should not be con- 
fused with a piety which dichotomizes 
the spiritual and the material. Life be- 
fore God is inherently both material 
and spiritual. Perhaps the key word 
here is “alone.” The text says that we 
do not live by bread alone; but it does 
not say that we live by the word of God 
alone. The life which God gives to us 
includes both word and bread, both soul 
and body. We are not necessarily living 
holy lives because we have given up 
some token of earthly existence. Re- 
nunciation of the material, and devo- 
tion to the spiritual, do not intrinsically 
signify righteousness before God. True 
obedience to the word necessarily in- 
volves appreciation for the bread. 


This leads to the second, and final, 
observation.* It is interesting that the 
author does not suggest fasting as a 
form of remembrance of the testing in 
the wilderness. In fact, the text does not 
recommend any form of remembrance 
at all. There is no prescribed rite which 
Israel is to observe, no liturgy which she 

* While the text does not support a spiritual 
piety divorced from worldly existence, on the 
other hand it is also concerned less with ex- 
ternal religion than with internal fidelity. 


is to celebrate. The Deuteronomist is 
simply not interested in the outward 
manifestations of piety. Instead, his 
concern is with the attitude of the 
heart. It is the internal orientation of 
the people, as a community of faith, 
which consumes his interest. Just as 
Yahweh tested Israel in the wilderness, 
to know what was in her heart, so Israel 
is to know in her heart — to recognize 
and affirm internally — the parental 
grace of God. 

Still, the author’s main concern is not 
the temptations in the past, but those 
of the future. The lesson of the wilder- 
ness is understood to be aimed at Israel’s 
ongoing life before Yahweh in the fu- 
ture, in the bounteous new land. And 
here the irony of the relationship be- 
tween wilderness and new land is even 
more apparent. The wilderness wander- 
ing, which was perceived as punish- 
ment, was in fact instruction in the 
grace of God. The new land, which 
could be perceived as reward, or as 
achievement, is in fact the gracious gift 
of God. Both wilderness and fertile 
land are part of God’s parental care, 
and yet neither is romanticized as a 
sure sign of human worthiness before 

In short, the irony of the whole chap- 
ter turns on the relationship between 
life and death, hunger and satiety, re- 
membering and forgetting, gratitude 
and arrogance. In the wilderness, where 
Israel expected to die, she found out 
what life really meant. In the new 
land, where life will be so bountiful, 
Israel may be led into death. Similarly, 
the affliction which Israel would na- 
turally like to forget, she is told to re- 
member; the good times to which she 
naturally looks forward, she is told to 
beware. In the end, the wilderness was 



a test of hunger, the new land, a test of 
satiety — and the latter is the more dan- 

Like the wilderness, the new land 
too will be a test of the heart. In the 
midst of affluence, Israel will be tempt- 
ed to lift up her heart, not in gratitude, 
but in arrogance. She will easily forget 
the God who led her in the former time 
of trial. “Beware lest you say in your 
heart, ‘My power and the might of my 
hand have gotten me this wealth.’ ” 

The irony of the text lies in the fact 
that both affliction and affluence, both 
the threat of death and the promise of 
new life, confront the community of 
faith with the most serious of tempta- 
tions — the temptation of forgetting. 
Forgetting is not simply a mental lapse 
of memory, but a fundamental and ac- 
tive distortion of Israel’s relationship 
with God. The attitude of the heart 

is not only internal, but involves the 
whole corporate body; it involves every- 
thing that the people do and say. 

For Israel, the time of affliction in the 
wilderness has not partitioned off as a 
separate part of her past, to be quickly 
forgotten once the new life had come. 
It seems to me that we should under- 
stand Lent in much the same way. Lent 
is not simply an independent part of the 
ecclesiastical year. Relinquishing the 
blessings of life is justifiable only when 
it derives from and returns to thanks- 
giving to the source from whom all 
blessings flow. If it is genuine, Lent is 
only an outward sign of an inner atti- 
tude, an attitude of humble gratitude for 
the new life which we receive, and a 
recognition that life comes both as word 
and bread. The ashes on the forehead 
are only the remains of the fire; the 
fire itself must ever burn in the heart. 

Bultmann and the 
Proclamation of the Word 

by Ronald E. Sleeth 

O ver twenty years ago, Theodore 
O. Wedel wrote a perceptive article 
entitled, “Bultmann and Next Sun- 
day’s Sermon.” 1 It was the author’s in- 
tention to introduce Rudolf Bultmann 
to American preachers by demonstrat- 
ing his importance for the preaching 
office. Though by no means uncritical, 
Wedel, nevertheless, affirmed that in his 
work the Marburg scholar had the pro- 
claimers of the Gospel in mind. 2 Wedel 
claimed in regard to Bultmann’s influ- 
ence, “As one who is arousing the 
churches to the urgency of proclaiming 
the good news to our age he may be one 
to whom can be applied the words of 
the Old Testament: Who knows 

whether you have not come to the 
Kingdom for such a time as this?”’ 3 
Now, approximately two years after 
Bultmann’s death, there is need for a 
re-appraisal of his influence on the pul- 
pit by delineating certain aspects of his 
theological pursuits which have bearing 

1 Theodore O. Wedel, “Bultmann and 
Next Sunday’s Sermon.” Anglican Theologi- 
cal Review , Vol. 39, 1957. 

2 For example, Wedel quarreled with Bult- 
mann’s term demythologizing. He contended 
that the preacher’s task is the opposite of de- 
mythologizing, for the pulpit should present 
“an apologetic for the use in the Bible of 
imaginative symbols as conveying truths 
which defy historical literalism.” Perhaps it 
is a semantic problem. Wedel’s strictures 
could be obviated by the word re-mytholo- 

3 Ibid., p. 8. 

An alumnus of Yale Divinity School 
(B.D.) and 'Northwestern University (Ph.D.), 
the Rev. Ronald E. Sleeth is currently a 
visiting professor in preaching at Garrett- 
Evangelical Theological Seminary. Dr. Sleeth 
has taught at Vanderbilt and Perkins Theo- 
logical Schools and is the author of several 
boo\s on communication and preaching, in- 
cluding Persuasive Preaching ( Harper , ig$6) 
and Which Way to God? ( Abingdon , ig68). 

on homiletics. Much critical comment 
has been written on this multi-faceted 
scholar since his death. His work as a 
New Testament scholar, existential phi- 
losopher, and theologian is being ap- 
praised and will continue to be. The 
purpose here is to examine his con- 
tribution to preaching theory and there- 
by to the Christian pulpit. 

It goes without saying that Rudolf 
Bultmann is a controversial figure in 
the theological world. His advocates 
and critics are both highly vocal. It may 
be too strong to aver as one writer does, 

“The evaluation of any author is to 
be done only after a fair and careful 
reading of his own writings; but this 
has been a problem in Bultmann’s 
case, especially in America, where 
the merchants of religious fear and 
slogan warfare inspire burning be- 
fore learning.” 4 

Jeske certainly is right, though, in his 
contention that “Bultmann was too 
conservative for liberals and too liberal 
for conservatives. To the former he ap- 
peared too indebted to the Lutheran 
tradition, his theology too focused on 
the Bible; to the latter he appeared de- 
structive to both.” 5 
Whatever may be the final judgments 

4 Richard Jeske, “Rudolf Bultmann 1884- 
1976,” Dialog, Vol. 17, Winter 1978, p. 19. 

5 Ibid. 



of his labors, it is clear that Bultmann’s 
towering figure will dominate scholar- 
ship in the fields of New Testament 
and theology for years to come. In re- 
gard to preaching, his impact is also 
powerful and will continue to be. For, 
whatever one’s view of Bultmann’s the- 
ological content and methodology, 
there should be no question whatsoever 
that he is an inveterate friend of preach- 
ers. Wedel’s observation that he had 
the proclaimers of the Gospel in mind 
is certainly correct. Whatever else one 
might say of Bultmann’s theological 
work, it was done in service to the 
Church. More particularly, it was a 
servant theology subservient to the proc- 
lamation of the Word — preaching the 
Gospel. Schubert Ogden maintains that 
“we have every reason to expect that 
any theology claiming serious attention 
should prove its relevance for authentic 
Christian preaching .” 6 This comment 
coming from a review of Bultmann’s 
Marburg sermons applies to the theo- 
logical stance of the book. 

The Importance of Preaching 

The importance given to the act of 
preaching by Bultmann is obvious to 
any careful reader of his writings, for 
they are replete with the emphasis upon 
service to the life of the Church and to 
the task of preaching. It shocks some — 
as it did Jaspers — to know that a scholar 
of Bultmann’s stature who had shaken 
the theological foundations in so many 
areas was a devout churchperson, a 
preacher himself, and one who felt the 
salvation-occurrence was in the act of 

6 Schubert M. Ogden, Review of Rudolf 

Bultmann, The World and Beyond, West- 

minster Boobjnan, December, i960, pp. 8ff. 

Though applied to Bultmann in this instance, 
the quotation would be true for Ogden as 

preaching and only there. Bultmann 
did not claim to be a great preacher, 
but he took the assignment seriously. 
As Kendrick Grobel notes perceptively 
in speaking of Bultmann (and hope- 
fully for all of us), “to a true Lutheran 
there are no ‘great preachers’ (are there 
any to a true Christian ?) but only re- 
sponsible and less responsible ones .” 7 
Bultmann himself took the responsibil- 
ity seriously as a natural expression of 
both his churchmanship and his theol- 

The latter we have already empha- 
sized, and its importance cannot be 
stated too strongly. Grobel, an outstand- 
ing New Testament scholar in his own 
right and the translator of Bultmann’s 
two-volume work on the New Testa- 
ment, states the servant-to-the-church 
nature of Bultmann’s studies of the 
New Testament. 

“. . . Bultmann regards all interpret- 
ing of the New Testament as ancil- 
lary. It is no mere luxury of a few 
leisured professors, their graduate 
students, and the rare thinking lay- 
man. No, it is a servant discipline 
(and a hard working one!) ancil- 
lary to the Church’s proclamation .” 8 

Interestingly enough, then, two of the 
major theological figures of our century, 
Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann, 
while differing in many other respects, 
are at one with their emphasis upon 
the doctrine of the Word of God and 
the attendant corollary of the centrality 
of preaching . 9 

7 Kendrick Grobel, “The Practice of De- 
mythologizing,” Journal of Bible and Re- 
ligion, Vol. 27, pp. 28-29. 

8 Ibid., p. 29. 

9 “Bultmann’s doctrine of the Word of 
God is just as high as Karl Barth’s, but with 
almost exclusive emphasis upon Barth’s third 


Definition of Preaching 

For Bultmann, however, the central- 
ity of preaching was not a pious shib- 
boleth born out of his understanding of 
the Church or out of his scholarly pur- 
suits as a churchman. Proclamation was 
central as a theological affirmation to 
be sure, but it had very specific content 
coincident with his studies in exegesis, 
and this primacy can be seen in these 
exegetical works, books on the New 
Testament, articles of various kinds, 
and in his own sermons. 

Similar to both Luther and Barth, 
Bultmann believed that preaching is 
God’s Word in human speech. God 
through Christ speaks to us through the 
proclamation of the preacher: 

“. . . the sermon is the proclamation 
of the Word of God as attested in the 
Bible, that it must be understood as 
an address which strikes the heart, 
and in that address Jesus Christ him- 
self speaks to us .” 10 


“Proclamation is personal address. It 
is authoritative address, the address 
of the Word of God, which, paradoxi- 
cally, is spoken by . . . the preacher .” * 11 

And, again in his own words, with a 
definition of preaching as precise as 
one would be likely to find in Bult- 
mann, or anywhere else: 

“True Christian preaching is there- 

form, the living Word of God speaking now 
through Scripture and preacher to living 
men.” Ibid. 

10 Franz Peerlinck, Rudolf Bultmann als 
Prediger. Hamburg: H. Reich Evangelischer 
Verlag, 1970. Quoted in Jeske, op. cit., p. 26. 

11 Rudolf Bultmann, “General Truths and 
Christian Proclamation.” To Friedrich Go- 
garten on his 70th birthday. Tr: Schubert 
M. Ogden, 1957. 


fore a proclamation which claims to 
be the call of God through the mouth 
of man and, as the word of authority, 
demands belief. It is its characteristic 
paradox that in it we meet God’s 
call in human words .” 12 

How reminiscent are these views of 
Bultmann’s with those of others who 
have contended that the Word of God 
cannot be separated from its proclama- 
tion. The Gospel is a preached Gospel. 
The content cannot be separated from 
its delivery. Though assumed to be 
strictly a Lutheran view, this “high” 
perspective of preaching has roots in 
primitive Christianity, can be traced 
throughout Christian history, and is 
embraced today by many preachers and 
scholars whose theological and denomi- 
national spectrums are wide and varied 
— both Catholic and Protestant . 13 

Bultmann’s understanding of preach- 
ing as God’s Word spoken in the 
mouth of the preacher is followed nat- 
urally by what is now called Word- 
Event theology. The preached word re- 
veals God’s Word in the event of 
proclamation through the words of the 
preacher addressed to hearers, and 
thereby creates an Event not about the 
Christian faith, but the Christian faith 
itself. That is, preaching is not talking 
about the Gospel, it is the Gospel. For 
Bultmann, “the sermon (every true 
sermon as released Word of God) is 
part and parcel of the salvation-occur- 

12 , “Preaching: Genuine and Secu- 

larized.” Tr. Harold O. J. Brown. Religion 
and Culture, Essays in Honor of Paul Tillich, 
ed. by Walter Leibrecht. New York: Harper 
& Bros. 1959, p. 237. 

13 For a fuller discussion on this same 
theme and on the persons who would be 
close to Bultmann’s view, see Ronald E. 
Sleeth, Proclaiming The Word, Nashville: 
Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1964. Chapter 1. 



rence itself .” 14 The event of salvation is 
inextricably related to the preaching of 
the Word. 

The indivisibility of the Word (of 
God) with words (speech) reveals the 
concern Bultmann had for language 
and undoubtedly presaged much of the 
present discussion in that area. Words, 
in a sense, bring God who is unseen 
into being. The words, then, bring 
about a reality which affects our own 

. . God advenes in language and 
nowhere else. If Jesus was not raised 
into language, he was not resurrected 
at all. The resurrection of Jesus is 
the fact that the New Testament story 
of Jesus has the power to enable its 
hearers to exist in trust instead of in 
self-securing, trusting the one Jesus 
called Father even without knowing 
otherwise who he is. Whoever hears 
such a kerygma knows, in the hear- 
ing, the all-determining reality that 
the word ‘God’ signifies .” 15 

Bultmann’s concern for the Word of 
God in the mouths of preachers with his 
emphasis upon language, does not give 
— as one might suppose — inordinate 
power to the preacher’s role. Contem- 
porary preachers often feel that views of 
preaching such as Bultmann’s elevate 
the preacher, causing ontological angst 
as well as awe. The point, however, as 
with Luther, is not to elevate the 
preacher, but preaching. 

“What they preach is not their own 
thoughts and judgments, but the call 
of God, which they must proclaim, 
whether they will or not. . . . The 

14 K. Grobel, op. cit., p. 29. 

15 Robert P. Scharlemann, “The System- 
atic Structure of Bultmann’s Theology.” 
Dialog , Vol. 17, Winter 1978, p. 35. 

words of such messengers are words 
with authority, with an authority such 
as human speech otherwise does not 
have .” 16 

The preacher, then, does not present 
personal opinions and does not admon- 
ish or console the congregation with 
his or her own person. Nor, as Bult- 
mann says in another place, does the 
preacher reflect the congregation’s 
ideals, feelings, yearnings, or certainties. 
Certainly the preacher does not preach 
his or her own self — even one’s own 
religious life. The preacher does stand, 
however, within the congregation. Ob- 
viously, then, the Word of God is ad- 
dressed also to the preacher. In that 
sense the preacher does preach self. Or, 
to be more precise, the preacher preaches 
to himself or herself. Preachers, then, 
preach a Word not their own which 
addresses both the congregation and 
themselves without reflecting either’s 
personal feelings, ideals, or special in- 
terests. In other words, the pulpit 
proclaims a \erygma, a heralding ad- 
dressed to both congregation and 
preacher, and not simply general or 
secular truths. 

General and Secular Truths 

Preaching is personal address pro- 
claiming a message of Good News 
where the very act of proclamation 
fuses the kerygma and the preaching of 
it into the salvation-occurrence itself. 
Therefore, proclamation cannot be con- 
ceived of as preaching truths available 
to everyone naturally. This very inter- 
esting idea is unfolded in two articles 
Bultmann wrote paying tribute to 
Friedrich Gogarten and Paul Tillich. 
The first, entitled “General Truths and 

16 Rudolf Bultmann, “Preaching: Genuine 
and Secularized,” op. cit., p. 237. 



Christian Proclamation,” was written 
for Friedrich Gogarten on his seven- 
tieth birthday. The second article called, 
“Preaching: Genuine and Secularized” 
appears in a Festschrift ( Religion and 
Culture ) in honor of Paul Tillich. The 
intent and theme of both articles are 

Bultmann claims that general truths 
are truths which are available to every- 
one because they arise from man him- 
self. They arise from our human situa- 
tion and our own reflections on our joys 
and sorrows, valid for all of us. These 
truths are like proverbs which all per- 
sons can say to themselves, and they are 
addressed to everyone. Preaching, on 
the other hand, is the address of the 
Word of God, having its meaning in 
being addressed to us personally and 
immediately — here and now. Proclama- 
tion is a message we cannot say to our- 
selves. We cannot carry the truth of the 
Gospel around with us as a possession; 
that would make it a general truth. 
Faith grasps the Christian truth, and it 
is appropriated again and again, often 
with struggle, for it is not simply a 
truth that enlightens or informs, but is 
paradoxical — a scandal for us as “nat- 
ural” human beings. 

Pursuing this same theme, Bultmann 
compares genuine preaching with secu- 
larized preaching. Taking art as an ex- 
ample, he suggests that it is possible 
that art may become indirect preaching 
when it lays bare existence in its depths 
or focuses on human limitations and 
life’s problematic nature, but that may 
be self rather than God speaking. Also, 
preaching is not espousing a philosophy 
for discussion and speculation. Rather, 
it is direct authoritative address which 
demands a response of faith. Nor should 
preaching be confused with teaching 
which seeks primarily to instruct and 

interest. It is helpful if a sermon does 
both, but the real mission is to point up 
questions which are inherent in various 
areas of life, and the answers received 
in light of the Word of God. Even 
ethical instruction is not the sermon’s 
goal. Rather, the sermon shows the 
congregation’s need for forgiveness 
with the paradox that in the sermon 
human speech conveys God’s forgive- 
ness. Love, which is the heart of the 
ethical commandment, is obtainable if 
one has been freed from oneself for 
devotion to others. This freedom is not 
a natural attribute, but is an event that 
happens when a word of forgiveness is 
spoken. When that happens, a person is 
open to encounter the neighbor. 

Preaching doctrine receives the same 
treatment as propagating philosophy, 
teaching, or ethical instruction. Doc- 
trine is not direct address; it is not a 
word which demands faith. The lan- 
guage of theology can formulate the 
content of preaching, but to state that 
is not preaching. A person can be 
brought to the need for forgiveness by 
the doctrine of original sin, but the key 
point is the acceptance of its preaching 
by responding, “God be merciful to me 
a sinner,” not by affirming a belief in 
the doctrine of original sin. 

Even preaching about Jesus can be 
secularized if he is seen as simply an 
appearance in history, a hero, or a pious 
model. Preaching Jesus is not giving a 
historical report. True preaching pro- 
claims him Lord. This old Christian 
confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord” is the 
heart of the Gospel. He enables us to 
live in the world, be raised above it, and 
free from it — even as He was. We 
understand the Lordship of Christ as 
the gift of freedom in which we be- 
come free from ourselves; thus, new 
persons. Responding to genuine preach- 



ing means to believe in Jesus Christ as 
Lord, to trust and obey; it does not 
mean to accept certain doctrines about 
Christ. It is true confession, according 
to Bultmann, rather than acceptance of 
doctrines that distinguishes genuine 
preaching from secularized preaching. 
The Lord is present in the Word 
preached when Jesus Christ as Lord is 
proclaimed. The communication of that 
Word through personal address cannot 
be over-emphasized. 

“. . . one may finally ask whether 
preaching can always be only in the 
spoken word, whether it cannot also 
occur through silent action. Certainly 
a deed, too, can have the nature of an 
address. But we are concerned with a 
deed which can be effective as Chris- 
tian preaching, that is, not with any 
effects of the Christian religion in 
Western civilization but with the 
proof of Christian love of man for 
man. The act of love opens to him 
who receives it to become free from 
himself, as he is drawn into the king- 
dom of the rule of love and is guided 
to accept with it the human, spoken 
word of preaching as the Word of 
God .” 17 

The Bible and Preaching 

It comes as no surprise to assert that 
the Word of God comes through the 
Scriptures for Bultmann. It would be 
difficult to conceive anything different 
for a Lutheran New Testament scholar. 
Grobel makes the point adamantly in 
speaking of Bultmann’s view of scrip- 
ture and preaching: 

“. . . Word of God . . . must be au- 
thorized. How can it be? By hum- 
bling itself to be nothing but exposi- 

17 Ibid., p. 242. 

tion of a Word of God that once 
occurred. To that Word of old the 
Bible bears witness . . . all preaching 
is either expository or simply is not 
preaching .” 18 

Though stringently stated, Bultmann 
himself would agree and writes that 
“What marks his [preacher’s] sermon 
as proclamation is that it has as its text 
a word of Scripture and consists in the 
interpretation of that word .” 19 
As was seen in the sections on the 
definition of preaching and in the com- 
parison of secular preaching or general 
truths with authentic preaching, it is 
Jesus Christ who is the content of the 
kerygma we preach. Interestingly, in 
spite of the contention of those who 
believe Bultmann ignores the historical 
figure of Jesus, he contends that the 
message preached is a historical fact. 
“The content of the message is thus an 
event, a historical fact: the appearance 
of Jesus of Nazareth, his birth, but at 
the same time his work, his death and 
his resurrection .” 20 Bultmann is saying 
that the kerygma is communication of a 
historical fact, but it is also more than 
that. The communication is more than 
mere communication. In regard to the 
both/and of the historical nature of the 
Christ-Event, Bultmann considers the 
perennial question of Jesus’ preaching 
versus the Church’s proclamation 
which included Jesus as the kerygma. 
Though not stating that Jesus’ preach- 
ing was not Christian preaching and 
disregarding the question of whether 
Jesus’ own preaching was hidden 
Christian preaching, he does point out 

18 K. Grobel, op. cit., p. 29. 

19 R. Bultmann, “General Truths and 
Christian Proclamation.” 

20 , “Preaching: Genuine and Secu- 

larized,” op. cit., p. 240. 



that the preaching of the Church and 
the preaching of Jesus were not the 
same. In any event, His message be- 
came part of the Christian proclama- 
tion “in which the one proclaimed is at 
the same time present as proclaimer .” 21 


No one thing causes more controversy 
regarding Bultmann’s position than his 
concept of demythologizing. It can be 
considered alongside his existential mo- 
tif — especially in connection with 
preaching — because these two ideas 
come to bear most dramatically at the 
point of communication. His use of the 
word mythology is actually not that 
complicated. We noted earlier that 
Wedel criticized Bultmann’s use of the 
term de-mythology, but only because he 
felt that the biblical mythology could 
be interpreted as truth-conveying sym- 
bols rather than using other myths, i.e. 
demythology or remythology. Even 
Wedel, though, sees clearly the prob- 
lem Bultmann is addressing, as would 
all who escape the fundamentalist ap- 
proach to Scripture. In an endeavor to 
avoid literal interpretation of a three- 
story cosmology, the preacher must 
address the task of communicating the 
Gospel to our age, granting the ever- 
present need for responsibility in inter- 
preting (reinterpreting?) the Scrip- 

George Stuart quotes Bultmann’s 
own words that “Mythology is the use 
of imagery to express the other worldly 
in terms of this world and the divine 
in terms of human life, the other side 
in terms of this side .” 22 The controver- 

21 , “General Truths and Christian 

Proclamation,” op. cit. 

22 Quoted from Kerygma and Myth in 
George C. Stuart, “Demythologizing and 

sial word “de-mythologized” seems in- 
nocuously similar to “analogy” when 
viewed by Bultmann himself. Grobel 
further defines the term in a concrete, 
specific manner that leaves little doubt 
as to the meaning of demythologizing, 
and its importance for the pulpit and 
the pew: 

“Bultmann discovered that it [the 
mythical] can also be demythologized 
by being existentialized, which 
means, to coin a word, relevantized: 
made relevant to man’s actual exist- 
ence where and how he lives to- 
day .” 23 

If Grobel’s words do not convey in un- 
mistakable terms the exact meaning, 
then Bultmann in his foreword to a 
book on his own preaching by Franz 
Peerlinck certainly makes clear his in- 

“. . . the task of preaching is the ex- 
position of the Bible, . . . the language 
of the Bible must be translated in 
such a way that the modern hearer 
can understand it, and that therefore 
the sermon must be oriented toward 
the actual situation of its hearers .” 24 

It is this latter emphasis upon the 
actual situation of the hearers that 
makes Bultmann’s demythologizing so 
important, and in addition, brings the 
now-ness of his existentialism front and 
center. Grobel reminds us of this exact 
point when speaking of Bultmann’s in- 
terpretation of the New Testament and 
its ancillary function to proclamation. 
Interpretation is not complete until it is 
proclaimed from the pulpit, but not 

Preaching.” Encounter, Vol. 19, No. 2. 
Spring 1958, p. 133. 

23 K. Grobel, op. cit., p. 31. 

24 Quoted in Jeske, op. cit., p. 26. 



even then. There is still the great divide 
between the pulpit and the pew. Bridg- 
ing that gulf provides the preacher with 
the greatest of challenges. “All biblical 
interpretation is complete only when it 
has brought the proclamation effective- 
ly into the man in the pew .” 25 This 
means, of course, that even a paraphrase 
of scripture will not do. Tbe sermon 
“must rather endow them [words of 
Scripture] with actuality, so that they 
can be heard here and now as viva vox, 
as having sprung from the immediate 
moment .” 26 Such a stance not only gives 
preaching immediacy, but emphasizes 
once again that the act of preaching is 
itself the salvation-occurrence. 

“one must really say not the revela- 
tion which has occurred, but the reve- 
lation which is occurring. For this 
communication does not make known 
a past historical fact; rather, the para- 
dox is that, in this ‘communication,’ 
the occurrence of revelation constant- 
ly takes place anew. . . .” 27 

The Gospel is proclaimed in the now 
as an eschatological event for us. We 
are called to enter the drama of death 
and resurrection as a means of entering 
new life in Christ. As Wedel graphical- 
ly portrays it: 

“The word ‘decision’ — and this, in 
turn, viewed with eschatological ulti- 
mates awesomely in mind — might be 
called Bultmann’s theme song. . . . 
The preacher, clearly, is called upon 
to confront his hearers with the scan- 
dal of the Gospel as a scandal now. 
. . . Baptism involves more than a 
confession of belief that a man called 

25 Grobel, op. cit., p. 29. 

26 R. Bultmann, “General Truths and 
Christian Proclamation,” op. cit. 

27 Ibid. 

Jesus died and rose again. It means 
participation in that action. This is 
a drama in which we are on the 
stage .” 28 

Decision is important to Bultmann. 
Personal address calls for response from 
a particular congregation in a specific 
situation, as distinguished from general 
truths, for example, or secularized 
preaching. The call is nothing less than 
placing before the auditor a decision 
“whether he will belong to the old or 
to the new world, whether he will re- 
main the old man or become a new 
man .” 29 

Finally, reminding us again of the 
nature of the kerygma, its presence in 
the now, and the decisiveness of our re- 
sponse, Bultmann states that: 

“Believing in Christ does not mean 
holding high ideas about his person 
to be true, but believing in the Word, 
in which he speaks to us, through 
which he wants to become our 
Lord .” 30 


Two decades after Theodore Wedel’s 
hope that Bultmann would have a posi- 
tive effect on next Sunday’s sermon, 
there is reason to believe that his influ- 
ence has been significant. Granting that 
there are those who remain unaffected 
by the issues Bultmann raised, and 
others who have outright antipathy, 
there is little doubt that to any serious 
student, Bultmann has become a figure 
to be reckoned with, not only in the 
fields of New Testament and Theology, 
but also forcefully in the responsible 
work of the minister called to proclaim 

28 Wedel, op. cit., p. 6. 

29 R. Bultmann, “Preaching: Genuine and 
Secularized,” op. cit., p. 242. 

30 Ibid., p. 240. 



the Word of God faithfully week by 

His firmness in stating the primacy 
of preaching by no means makes him 
unique. It does place him in the stream 
of those who claim that preaching is 
based upon Revelation and the Word 
of God. That is to say, that God has 
and continues to be revealed in the proc- 
lamation of the Word. It is erroneous 
to consider such an affirmation as strict- 
ly Lutheran. Bultmann’s stance is 
normative in the history of the Chris- 
tian Church, and this high view of 
preaching has its counterparts in count- 
less creeds which define the Church as 
being constituted by Word and Sacra- 
ment (i.e., the Church is where the 
pure Word of God is preached and the 
Sacraments duly administered). The 
coupling of Word and Sacrament also 
finds its way into the ordination vows 
of most Christian Churches. Therefore, 
to relegate Bultmann to a Lutheran 
parochialism, or label him just another 
Barthian, is to misread his work and 
his influence. While Barthians are often 
accused of a preaching that repeats a 
historic and static kerygma as if the 
verbal assertion would be efficacious in 
itself, Bultmann’s existential emphasis 
would exclude him from that charge. 
The concern for communicating the 
Gospel is at the heart of demythologiz- 

The emphasis upon the Gospel as a 
preached Gospel causes concern in some 
quarters, but the affirmation that the 
human word embodies God’s Word 
should not seem unusual. In addition 
to the historical tradition of the Church 
that affirms it, scholars such as Bult- 
mann stand clearly on that premise. 
The Word-Event movement has. as its 
basis the belief that the Word spoken 
by words calls into being an event 

which is the salvation-occurrence itself. 
Interestingly enough, that theological 
proposal is not unlike the interest in 
language and words as expressed by 
modern communication experts. The 
importance of the human voice and the 
use of words as the basis of communica- 
tion among humans is only one ex- 
ample of this secular counterpart to 
Bultmann’s concern. 

Many of us fear any undue emphasis 
upon the role of the preacher which in- 
culcates an authoritarian or dogmatic 
position. To assign such a high valence 
to the pulpit as Bultmann does causes 
both theological alarm and personal 
angst. Though one could not, or should 
not, minimize the awe associated with 
the proclamation of the Word, three 
important affirmations can be made. 
First, Bultmann does not confuse the 
role of the preacher with the preacher’s 
task. That is, it is the preacher’s work 
that is elevated, not the preacher. Sec- 
ond, the Word which the preacher has 
wrestled with in the Scriptures and ad- 
dressed to the congregation paradoxi- 
cally is not only delivered to others; it 
is also delivered to himself or herself. 
Third, it is the incarnational aspect of 
preaching which tempers the mysterium 
tremendum of the preaching office. The 
reverent awe of dealing with God’s 
Word is mitigated by the faith claim 
that God has entrusted the revelatory 
Word to a human vessel. Just as in the 
Incarnation the Word became flesh, so 
it does now in the faithful and respon- 
sible proclamation of the Word. 

One of the most important emphases 
of Bultmann which could influence the 
American pulpit profoundly is his ad- 
monishment concerning secular preach- 
ing and/or preaching on general truths, 
as contrasted with genuine preaching. 
There is a parallel between his warning 



against preaching general truths and 
with our proclivity for “topical” preach- 
ing. Preaching “topical” sermons as op- 
posed to “biblical” sermons surely domi- 
nates most pulpits. Seeking a topic, 
preaching upon it with or without bibli- 
cal support compares with Bultmann’s 
understanding of preaching general 
truths. Through his and others’ em- 
phasis have permeated the American 
scene — at least theoretically — pragmati- 
cally most American preachers (what- 
ever the denomination or theology) 
tend to preach topics. 

The antithesis, of course, is biblical 
preaching; that is, permitting the ser- 
mon to arise from the preacher’s strug- 
gle with the text, which is our story 
and tells us who we are. Far from being 
a literal talisman, the Scripture contains 
the Christian’s Heilsgeschichte, the ke- 
rygma for the Christian community, 
and the medium through which God 
has spoken and continues to speak. 

Though to some, Bultmann may deni- 
grate the historicity of the Christian 
faith, his emphasis upon kerygmatic 
preaching keeps one’s focus on the 
death and resurrection of Jesus, as well 
as the birth, life, and teachings. 

Finally, how can the preacher avoid 
the exultation associated with Bult- 
mann’s existential motif relative to the 
pulpit? Apart from whatever we be- 
lieve about his philosophical base, his 
focus on communicating the now-ness 
of the Gospel can be exhilarating. Sup- 
pose, for example, the typical week -by- 
week preacher caught a glimpse of 
preaching that sent him or her into the 
pulpit, not simply to revivify the “old, 
old story,” but to proclaim that this 
Gospel can be appropriated now, and 
as efficaciously as when it was first 
heard. Such a message would truly be 
Good News. Wedel’s vision for next 
Sunday’s sermon would be fulfilled, 
and we would all be indebted to the 
work of Rudolf Bultmann. 

A Commencement 
Address— Re-Issued 

by J. Ritchie Smith 

T here are certain illusions that we 
are prone to cherish as we leave 
the shelter of home and school to take 
our place in the army of the world's 
workers. They are bright visions of 
youth which vanish quickly as the mists 
of early morning disappear before the 
rising sun. The rude hand of time tears 
away the veil which divides the world 
of fact from the world of fancy, and 
we are confronted by the stern realities 
of life. So Wordsworth pictures the 

“Who by the vision splendid 
Is on his way attended, 

At length the man perceives it die 

And fade into the light of common 

These illusions relate to ourselves, to 
the church and to the world. We are 
all in danger of thinking of ourselves 
more highly than we ought to think. 
Self-respect is a virtue, self-conceit is a 
vice, but who may draw the line be- 
tween them and say where one ends 
and the other begins ? The task of con- 
science would be much lighter if good 
and evil were always sharply distin- 
guished; if every action and quality 
were either white or black. But there 
is a large intermediate zone of gray. 
Over against every virtue there is set a 
contrary vice, and one easily merges 
into the other. Vice masquerades as vir- 
tue, and virtue decays to vice. At what 
point does liberty turn to license? Just 
when does patience cease to be a virtue 

This address, delivered to the Graduating 
Class of 1932, is re-printed at the request of 
an alumnus of the same year. The late /. 
Ritchie Smith, an alumnus of both Prince- 
ton University and the Theological Semi- 
nary, was professor of homiletics from 1914- 

and become mere weakness? When 
does meekness turn to cowardice? 
What line divides justice from revenge, 
and pity from maudlin sentiment? 
How may we distinguish self-conceit 
from self-respect? There are certain 
marks of self-conceit which are unmis- 
takable — a sense of fancied superiority 
which leads us to stand apart from our 
fellowmen; a supreme confidence in our 
wisdom which persuades us that we are 
masters and not the 'ministers of the 
church. These are manifestations of 
self-conceit which have wrought im- 
measurable harm. The minister has no 
ex-officio grace and no supernatural wis- 
dom is conferred upon him by ordina- 
tion. The first requisite of a good min- 
ister is to be a good man, a humble 
holy follower of the Lord Jesus. Some 
years ago a cousin of mine wrote me in 
behalf of a church in a western city 
which was seeking a pastor. They had 
had several unfortunate experiences 
with ministers, and after speaking of 
various qualifications which they de- 
sired, he added, “We should like to have 
a Christian, if possible.” 

It is easy to think highly of ourselves 
before we have been put to the test; to 
dream that we are rich before we have 
begun to count our store; that we are 
strong while our powers are yet untried. 
The process of self-discovery is often 
painful. We awake from our dreams of 
commanding eloquence and crowded 
congregations to the stern fact that we 
are plain, ordinary, commonplace, are 
not brilliant or eloquent, will never fill 



a large place in the church or in the 
world. Our fond parents may give a 
glowing report of us in the morning of 
life, and our tomb stone may eulogize 
us at its close; but in between there is 
a sad falling off. The sudden descent 
from the gilded heights of fancy to the 
vale of plain, prosaic, commonplace 
existence is not a pleasant experience. 
Nothing is more commonplace than the 
ambition to be great. If wishes were 
wings we should all be eagles or an- 
gels. Hitch your wagon to a star, if 
you will, but keep your wheels on the 

We cherish certain illusions regard- 
ing the church. We picture it as a scene 
of idyllic symplicity, purity and peace, 
of fellowship, brotherly love and spirit- 
ual power. There are ministers who 
spend their lives in the vain quest of 
the ideal church. There is none this side 
of the New Jerusalem. Jesus did not 
find it in the company of the twelve. 
Peter himself did not always exhibit the 
Pentecostal spirit. Paul did not find it as 
his Epistles abundantly attest. John did 
not find it, and the epistles to the seven 
churches give us a vivid picture of the 
church in every age. What errors of 
doctrine, what decay of morals, what 
discord and strife among those who 
should be brethren! A former parish- 
ioner of mine recently reminded me of 
a remark I once made in the pulpit, that 
when I entered the pastorate I thought 
I was called to be the leader of an army, 
but found myself head nurse in a hospi- 
tal. The words were evidently spoken 
in a mood of disenchantment and dis- 
appointment, but there is more truth in 
them than there ought to be. 

There are queer people in the church, 
timid souls like the man who said to 
me “I am afraid to study the Bible lest 
I should lose my faith”; self-confident 

spirits like the man who said to me not 
long ago, “I know that Jesus said this, 
but I do not agree with him”; the self- 
righteous, like the woman who com- 
plained to me of her neighbors, and 
when I asked her if she could not for- 
give them as God forgave her, ex- 
claimed, “I never treated the Lord as 
they treated me.” Or you may have such 
an experience as befell me in my early 
ministry. I was preaching in a Meth- 
odist Church and at the close of the 
service the minister announced that 
“Brother Smith who is with us tonight 
will preach again next week.” Where- 
upon an old brother in the front pew 
groaned out in painfully audible tones, 
“Lord help us.” I was young and foolish 
and the prayer was timely, but discon- 

There are queer people in the church, 
and we may be a little queer ourselves. 
If you grow weary of the search for a 
perfect church, comfort yourselves with 
the question, suppose I should find it, 
what use would it have for me? For 
the ideal church would require the ideal 
minister, and the one is as rare as the 

There are illusions that we cherish re- 
garding the world. We fancy that the 
world is young and plastic. Year by 
year a great company of young men 
and women emerge from school and 
college, with essay in one hand and 
diploma in the other, bent upon turn- 
ing the world upside down and reform- 
ing everything and everybody except 
themselves; but the world swings on its 
way unmoved and does not even know 
that they are at it. The world was very 
old when we were born and is very set 
in its ways. We grow impatient with 
the slow processes of nature and of 
grace, but God is never in a hurry, 
because he has eternity to work in. We 


do well to remind ourselves often of 
the word of the poet, “too swift arrives 
as tardy as too slow.” 

We are often told that the world is 
hungry for the Gospel. It is true that 
there is in the hearts of men a restless 
craving which God alone can satisfy. 
But with most men it is an ignorant 
desire. The hungry body knows what 
it wants, often the hungry soul does not. 
Men seek satisfaction in money, in 
pleasure, in fame, in honor, in power. 
The soul hungers and thirsts after 
righteousness, and they give it a new 
car. The soul cries out passionately for 
God, for the living God, and they give 
it a trip to Europe. It is the task of the 
minister not to create, indeed, but to 
instruct and direct this craving of the 
soul and turn it to Him in whom alone 
satisfaction may be found. There are no 
bread lines in front of our churches. 
There are many men who preach the 
Gospel sincerely and earnestly who 
never draw a crowd. The world appears 
strangely indifferent to our warnings 
and counsels and appeals, and the 
churches are half empty while the 
streets are full. 

These are some of the illusions re- 
garding ourselves, the church and the 
world that experience soon dispels. Life 
is one long process of disillusionment. 
Neither ourselves nor the church nor 
the world are what we thought they 
were. When we are thus rudely awak- 
ened from the dreams of youth there are 
those who grow hard, bitter, jealous, 
cynical. A danger line in the ministry 
which may easily become the deadline 
is the approach to middle age. For this 
there are several reasons. The church 
no longer makes allowance for youth 
and inexperience. The minister has 
come to years of manhood and must 
prove himself a man. The blossoms of 


hope and promise are beautiful in the 
springtime, but when summer comes 
they must give place to the fruits of 
wisdom and service. The physical ener- 
gies begin to slacken, and the body 
responds less promptly and efficiently 
to the call of the spirit. As labor becomes 
a little harder, we are likely to do a 
little less and the habit grows. The 
material which we have accumulated 
during the years of preparation has been 
exhausted, perhaps repeated over and 
over again until it has become an oft 
told tale, wearisome alike to minister 
and people. The preacher is not a living 
voice but merely an echo of the past. 
The enthusiasm of youth has been shat- 
tered against the hard facts of life and 
the visions of youth no longer inspire 
and strengthen him. 

How shall we meet these conditions 
and dangers that confront us at this 
time of life? All depends upon the 
habits we form in the Seminary and in 
the early years of our ministry. We form 
habits, then they form us. We are in 
danger of repeating the experience of 
Frankenstein, “The thing that we have 
fashioned may become our master, our 
tyrant.” Habits are the fetters or the 
anchors of the soul. They are ruts or 
rails, ruts that hamper, confine and 
cripple our energies, or rails on which 
the wheels of life turn easily and quick- 
ly as they bear us on our way. Habits 
are the moulds in which the life is cast. 

There are two habits that are essential 
if our ministry is to be not merely a 
profession by which we earn a living, 
but a divine calling: The habit of study 
and the habit of devotion. Our study 
must have a wide range, but the center 
and soul of it is the Word of God. The 
Bible is not an easy book. If it were the 
world would have outgrown it long 
ago. No other book is so difficult to 



master because no other book has pene- 
trated so deeply into the realm of mys- 
tery that hems us in on every side. 
It is mainly concerned with the two 
great mysteries of the universe: God 
Almighty and man made in the image 
of God. There is much, of course, 
which is plain and clear so that a child 
may learn the way of life; but there is 
also much that the mind of man has 
never fathomed, even the deep things of 
God. Hard and long and patient study 
is required if we would apprehend the 
fullness of grace and truth which is 
found in Christ Jesus. 

A student once informed me with an 
air of self-complacency that he had 
reached the point of reading for inspira- 
tion and not for information. I took an 
early opportunity to remind the class 
that we cannot have fire without fuel, 
that it is well to gather the fuel before 
we start the fire, and that he who reads 
for inspiration only is likely to resemble 
the Halloween lantern, a candle shining 
dimly in an empty head. 

The habit of devotion is the habit of 
fellowship with God. He is the com- 
panion, the friend of every day, shares 
with us every experience of our lives, 
has part in our sorrow and our joy. He 
puts his great heart beneath our burdens 
and griefs and helps us bear them. 
Whatever concerns us touches Him, 
and with unfailing wisdom and love 
He ministers to every need. 

Our study of the Word should be 
both critical and devotional. Let us not 
separate mind and heart when we take 
up the Scripture. If the Bible is divine, 
the most searching investigation is 
simply a mode of approach to God. The 
word is barren if we do not find God. 
Let the morning hours be devoted to 
this holy office. 

We hold fellowship with Him in 

prayer. We talk together, we speak the 
same language, we speak to Him in 
prayer, He speaks to us in promise. If 
we thus abide in fellowship with God 
through prayer and study of the word, 
we shall not regret the lost illusions of 
our youth for they are replaced by reali- 
ties far nobler and greater, as the heav- 
ens are higher than the earth. We may 
no longer cherish the hope of earthly 
fame and honor, but we are ambassa- 
dors of the King of Kings, representing 
the court of Heaven among the sons of 
men. We are the servants, the friends, 
the brothers of the Lord Jesus, and the 
simple “well done” of the Master is 
nobler and sweeter far than the loudest 
trump of earthly fame. We are prophets 
of the Spirit of God through whom he 
speaks testifying of Christ as Redeemer 
and Lord. Compared with these honors 
conferred upon us by God himself, what 
are the proudest titles of earth? 

Our fancy may no longer picture a 
great cathedral as the scene of our labors 
and our triumphs, where great audi- 
ences wait upon our ministries. The 
church in which we serve may be small 
and plain, one of those homely struc- 
tures that offend the eye of the artist, 
but strength and beauty are in his sanc- 
tuary, the strength and beauty of God, 
and the strength and beauty of his peo- 
ple, the strength of omnipotence and 
the beauty of holiness. This poor, un- 
comely building is the house of God, 
and gate of heaven. Here sinners are 
born anew; here the people of God 
are instructed, comforted, sanctified, 
strengthened for the service of the 

The church may seem to fall far short 
of the glorious vision that floats before 
our imagination, but it is the salt of the 
earth, the light of the world. It is 
the pillar and ground of the truth, the 


temple of God, the bride of Christ, the 
body of Christ, the fullness of Him 
that filleth all in all. The Kingdom is 
far wider and greater than the church, 
but the church is the visible and earthly 
representative of the Kingdom. Very 
imperfect are the men and women that 
make up the church, just as imperfect 
as we are; but this is the way God 
thinks of them, this is the way the Lord 
Jesus regards them, for he loved the 
church and gave himself for it. It is 
crowned with the promises of God, and 
the Lord Jesus shall one day present it 
to himself, a glorious church, without 
spot or blemish, when the work of grace 
is complete, and the reign of glory is 

Learn to look upon the people to 
whom you minister with the eyes of the 
Master. With all their faults and fail- 
ings, he loves them with an everlasting 
love. In them he lives again; through 
them he carries out his purpose of re- 
demption. Ask nothing of them that 
you do not first ask of yourself, remem- 
bering that we all have one Master, 
even the Lord Jesus. 

The world may disappoint us sorely. 
Men are hard, cold, indifferent; they 
are deaf to the most moving appeals, 
and seem insensible alike to hope and 
fear, yet this is the world that God so 
loved that He gave his only Son to 
redeem it, this is the world for which 
Christ died. These men and women so 
immersed in the cares and pleasures of 
life that they forget God, so laden with 
sins, are dear to the heart of God the 
Father. From them he is constantly 
recruiting the church. The sinner of 
today is the saint of tomorrow. There 
is no man sunk so deep in sin that 
Christ may not lay hold on him and 
lift him to the skies. Remember that 
this world is our field of service and 


our training school for heaven. Christ 
prayed not that his disciples should be 
taken out of the world, for the disciple 
needs the discipline of the world, and 
the world needs the witness of the 
disciple. There are lessons that we may 
learn only here. There is service that 
we may render only here. Learn to look 
upon the world with the spirit of com- 
passion that filled the heart of our 
Lord; the utmost measure of love to 
which we may attain is only a spark 
caught from the infinite and eternal 
flame of love that burns in the heart of 

If we thus face the realities of life we 
shall be prophets, not priests. We do not 
recognize a distinct order of priests. We 
believe in the High Priesthood of 
Christ, and the universal priesthood of 
believers, who are appointed to offer the 
sacrifice of praise and good works. But 
there are priests among our ministers. 
The priests are men of the letter con- 
cerned with rites and forms and cere- 
monies. The minister who is a priest 
becomes an ecclesiastical mechanic, al- 
ways tinkering with the machinery of 
the church, and content if the wheels 
run smoothly. The prophet is a man of 
the spirit declaring unto men the will 
of God for their salvation. Every man 
bears a priest and a prophet in his own 
heart and must determine which shall 
rule his life. We are constantly set face 
to face with the problems of the church. 
We spend much time and thought upon 
questions of organization and adminis- 
tration, and they have their importance, 
but they are wholly secondary. There 
is only one problem of primary con- 
cern in church life, and that is the prob- 
lem of power. The poorest machine 
with adequate power is vastly more 
efficient than the most elaborate ma- 
chinery where the power is wanting. 


1 68 

The secret of power is abiding in Christ. 
The secret of abiding is obedience. The 
power is there without limit for it is the 
power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of 
Christ. But remember that the Spirit 
comes not to be our servant, but our 
master, not to work our will, but to 
work his will through us. We make 
our plans and then pray Him to help 
us carry them out. There is a better 
way; not plan and pray, but pray and 
plan. Ask the Holy Spirit to help us 
make our plans and if they are his, He 
will not withhold his aid. 

It is an inspiring thought that we are 
not waging a losing battle or leading a 
forlorn hope. We are marching on to 
victory, to the certain and eternal tri- 
umph of the Kingdom of God. Christ 
is not on the way to another and darker 
Calvary. Once he bore the cross, now he 
wears the crown, a crown of all author- 

ity in heaven and on earth. The world 
is his for He made it and redeemed it. 
Not one drop of the precious blood 
that flowed on Calvary was shed in 
vain, and the great majority of man- 
kind shall be gathered in the Kingdom 
of God. The race that fell in Adam is 
restored in Christ. In the appointed 
time and way He shall come again to 
take possession of His own, and in the 
glory of that coming His faithful fol- 
lowers shall have a part. “With me ye 
have borne the cross,” he shall say, 
“with me ye shall wear the crown. He 
that over-cometh shall sit with me on 
my throne.” The heart of the promise is 
not Shall sit on my throne , but shall sit 
with me\ for to be with Him and to be 
like Him is the highest conception that 
we may form of the life to come, and 
to Thee, blessed Lord Jesus shall be all 
the praise. 


What in the World Is the World 
Council of Churches ?, by Ans J. Van 
Der Bent (including an interview with 
General Secretary Philip Potter). World 
Council of Churches, Geneva and New 
York, 1978. Pp. 86. $3.95. 

Most of the readers of this journal belong, 
through their churches who are members, to 
that great ecumenical fellowship which em- 
braces the vast majority of non-Roman 
Christians, from Eastern Orthodox to Pente- 
costal, known as the World Council of 
Churches. Recently the World Council has 
been caught in a swirl of controversy, largely 
due to particular actions by one of its depart- 
ments. Through the attacks of its enemies, its 
name is better known than ever before. But 
the average church member and even the 
average pastor is still in the main unaware of 
the full scope of what the Council is and does. 

Here at last is a small book, clearly written 
and attractively illustrated, which fills this 
need for basic information. It contains a con- 
cise history of the modern ecumenical move- 
ment as it grew out of the Life and Work, the 
Faith and Order, and the world missionary 
movements of the past century. It describes 
the membership and the activities of the 
Council in the deepening of theological and 
spiritual fellowship between the churches, in 
exploring world mission and evangelism, in 
channeling interchurch aid to the needs of the 
world, in giving expression to the social re- 
sponsibility of the churches for justice and 
human development, and in Christian edu- 
cation and the renewal of congregational life. 
There is also a brief chapter of reflection on 
the tasks that face the churches as they work 
together through the Council to bring a 
Christian witness to the world of tomorrow. 
Finally, there is a helpful list of appendices 
which show the membership, the organiza- 
tion, the staff and officers of the Council, and 
a selected bibliography for further reading. 

The book also faces frankly the criticisms 
of the World Council of Churches, both in- 
formed and uninformed, which are abroad in 
the world today. It begins with an interview 
with the General Secretary, Philip • Potter, 
which sets the tone of the whole. That tone 
is evangelical. Through Potter’s words one 

hears the basic ecumenical and missionary 
concern which formed the World Council of 
Churches in the first place: that Christians 
of the whole world may find the fullness of 
their fellowship in Jesus Christ and may bear 
a faithful witness to him throughout the 
world. This means that the Council is con- 
stantly wrestling with the problem of how an 
institution can also be a movement, and how 
a prophetic social witness can also be a minis- 
try to the spiritual needs of the world. These 
problems are unsolved in the World Council, 
as they are unsolved in the churches. Chris- 
tians need to listen to and work with each 
other in seeking answers to them. This is 
why the fellowship of the World Council of 
Churches exists. 

This little book is short and clear and in- 
teresting enough to make good study material 
for any adult group in the congregation, and 
good reading for any church member. 

Charles C. West 

No Offense: Civil Religion and the 
Protestant Taste, by John Murray Cud- 
dihy. Seabury Press, New York, N.Y., 
1978. Pp. xvi + 232. $12.95. 

This book presents a remarkable thesis, 
which comes out only in the final chapter and 
the conclusion: American Protestantism, 

rooted in the Puritan tradition of old New 
England and taking its model from Jesus and 
the early church, has imparted a “religion of 
civility” to the whole of American culture 
and politics which both institutionalizes and 
relativizes conflict between the ultimate claims 
of ideologies and religions. Christian humility 
takes the form of deliberate, even awkward, 
simplicity — an esthetica cruets rather than 
an esthetica gloriae — in art and life style. It 
demands a politics that does not pretend to 
realize community before the end-time but 
civilizes the conflict of interests and ideals 
into an imperfect but open process of living 
together. It relativizes finally the divisive, the 
elitist, claim of each religion — the Protestant 
evangelistic drive, the Catholic claim to be the 
one true church, and the Jewish sense of 
being a chosen people — into a respectful ac- 
ceptance of each religion by the other in a 
plural society. 



This is not, Cuddihy claims, a “civil re- 
ligion” of the sort recently described by 
Robert Bellah, and earlier by Will Herberg 
and Ralph Henry Gabriel. It is not a set of 
beliefs common to the three major strands of 
American religion, woven together by a sense 
of nationhood. Rather, it is a style of human 
behavior which the American experience has 
come to require. It is an esthetic sense of 
what is appropriate in public life. There is a 
deep paradox in it, because the “no offense” 
this civility intends, gives definite offense to 
both traditional and radical cultures which 
are more communal and more dependent on 
ther ultimates. Protestant sectarianism and 
Catholic conservatism sometimes seem strong- 
er than the mainstream. Judaism wrestles 
with the special significance of the state of 
Israel for its faith. And from the left comes 
the continual shout that the civil consensus 
on which American institutions are built is a 
fraud engineered by the rich and the power- 
ful to exploit and oppress the minorities and 
the poor. 

Nevertheless Cuddihy sees a continual do- 
mestication of all these strands, however 
powerful they may seem to be, which is con- 
tinuous with the message of Jesus himself. 
He also was offensive in his non-offense to 
the prevailing culture and power of his time. 
His fusion of divine power with the lowly 
and the commonplace, epitomized in the 
Last Supper, demanded both a political and 
an esthetic sacrifice of his followers, that 
characterized the church up to and beyond 
the time of Augustine. American civility is 
secular, but its roots are New Testament. 

Cuddihy realizes the genuine dilemma in 
which this places any faith that claims to bear 
witness to an ultimate truth. The bulk of his 
book deals with the struggle of four major 
faith-claims of this sort: Protestant claims for 
salvation in Christ alone, Roman Catholic 
claims that there is no salvation outside the 
church, Jewish claims to be the chosen people 
of God, and Marxist claims for the victory of 
the proletariat in a revolutionary class strug- 
gle. Of these the chapter on Judaism is the 
most informative and fullest. The Roman 
Catholic chapter centers on John Courtney 
Murray’s theological affirmation of American 
democracy rooted in the natural law for secu- 
lar purposes which do not affect the church’s 
ultimate religious claim. The chapter on 
Protestantism deals exclusively with Reinhold 
Niebuhr’s developing relations with the Jew- 

ish community and its effect on his under- 
standing of the universal truth claim of 
Christian faith. There is finally a study of 
the way Marxist ideas have been absorbed 
and relativized in American sociology. 

Here lies the basic problem of the book. 
As a description of American behavior it has 
value. As a theological statement of the rela- 
tion between faith, politics and culture, it is 
suggestive but needs much qualification. As a 
description of the theology of culture, at 
least in Protestantism and Catholicism, it 
trivializes what is going on. The statement of 
Murray’s and of Niebuhr’s ideas is clear and 
accurate as far as it goes. Neglected however 
is the fact that the Christian church in all its 
communions continues to wrestle, both in 
theology and practice, with the question of 
the form of its life and teaching which will 
be a faithful witness to Christ’s claim over the 
whole of American life, and which will there- 
fore be truly missionary. The problem is not 
settled by Catholic natural law doctrine or by 
Protestant self-criticism and repentance. Nor 
is there, as Cuddihy himself recognizes in a 
kind of undercurrent to his thought, a simple 
continuity between New Testament humility 
and American civility. There are too many 
elements of collective self-interest in the latter 
which need the prophetic judgment of the 
Gospel, which seems by its very nature un- 
civil. One should read No Offense as a stimu- 
lating aperqu of Protestant spirituality in the 
American scene by a Catholic and a sociolo- 
gist. As such it may help us each to reflect 
more deeply about a proper theology of 
American culture. 

Charles C. West 

The Center of Christianity , by John 
Hick. Harper & Row, San Francisco, 
CA, 1978. Pp. 128. $6.95. 

During the last twenty years John Hick 
has published an impressive number of pro- 
vocative and imaginative essays on topics in 
theology and the philosophy of religon. Al- 
though he holds the chair of H. G. Wood 
Professor of Theology at the University of 
Birmingham in England, Hick clearly is more 
a philosopher of religion than a systematic or 
dogmatic theologian. As a philosopher he has 
examined some of the basic claims of the 
Christian tradition and has subjected them to 
rational inquiry. In so doing he has raised a 


host of important questions for the Christian 
church and its theologians. The Center oj 
Christianity is the second edition of Chris 
tianity at the Centre (first published in 1968). 
It is both an introduction to what Hick 
considers basic issues confronting Christian 
faith today and a summary of the positions 
Hick has been arguing during the past twenty 
years. For the most part it is free from tech- 
nical theological jargon and unnecessary foot- 
notes, and probably could be used in an intro- 
ductory college religion course or by churches 
for adult education. 

Hick’s argument is that Jesus of Nazareth 
stands at the center of Christianity and that 
“the primary and central fact” in Christian 
faith “remains the impact of Jesus of Naza- 
reth upon mankind.” What we see in the 
figure of Jesus, Hick argues, is a man who 
was “marvellously open to God, living con- 
sciously in the divine presence and respon- 
sively to the divine purpose.” Jesus possessed 
an “intense God-consciousness” which mani- 
fested itself in his self-giving love and his 
treatment of other people as children of God. 
In the life and teaching of Jesus we en- 
counter that divine reality who is self-giving 
love itself, a love that carries with it a moral 
demand that we “strive towards the human 
perfection for which he has made us.” Faith 
in the God who encounters us in Jesus is not 
simply a matter of assenting to certain propo- 
sitions nor is it some form of bet or religious 
wager. Faith, as Hick describes it, is an inter- 
pretative capacity which enables us to “ex- 
perience life as divinely created and ourselves 
as living in the unseen presence of God.” 

In the last two chapters Hick discusses the 
practical difference faith makes, some of the 
intellectual questions that have been raised 
against Christian faith, and what Christian 
faith has to say about non-Christians and 
life after death. Most of these themes have 
been developed in greater detail in Hick’s 
other books, especially in Evil and the God 
oj Love, God and the Universe oj Faiths, and 
Death and Eternal Life. 

Those who respond in faith to the self- 
giving love revealed in Jesus of Nazareth are 
called not to a life characterized by divine 
commands or moral rules, but to a disposi- 
tion and a posture in the world that reflects 
the reality of this love. Having experienced 
this self-giving love and its demands Chris- 
tians should respond by living in openness to 
others with an “other-regarding outlook.” 


Furthermore a proper understanding of self- 
giving love and sensitivity to the plurality of 
religious faiths in the world means that the 
traditional position that salvation is only for 
Christians is no longer tenable. Christians 
should see God at the center of things and 
interpret the eschatological images of other 
world religions “not as definitive doctrines 
but as pointers to an unknown reality which 
lies beyond our vision,” pointers which con- 
verge and direct us along a common path. 

In response to the challenge posed by the 
reality of evil, Hick argues that the majority 
position in the Christian tradition, the Augus- 
tinian position, has serious logical, historical, 
and moral problems. In its place he argues for 
“a viable alternative,” a theodicy derived from 
the Irenaean tradition which does not mini- 
mize the reality of evil but which depicts the 
world as a place for soul-making. In Hick’s 
theodicy Jesus’ death was the supreme evil 
because it represents “the rejection of the 
highest possibility of our own human nature.” 
His position on theodicy leads Hick to de- 
velop two other themes: eschatological veri- 
fication and his interpretation of “eternal 
life.” If the world is a place for soul-making 
then death presents an obvious problem, since 
there seem to be few people who reach per- 
fection before they die. Hick’s response is 
that evil is by no means good, but that it 
serves a good end and must be interpreted 
from this eschatological perspective. Death 
itself is not evil but resembles sleep. It is the 
termination of one stage of our immortal 
existence which leads finally “to a total puri- 
fication from evil desire and a final entry into 
the conscious presence of infinite Goodness.” 

Hick does not respond in this book to the 
critical questions that have been raised about 
his arguments. For example, Hick’s belief 
that we have access to Jesus’ consciousness is 
difficult to defend in light of the discoveries 
of modern biblical scholarship. Repeatedly 
Hick speaks of “Jesus’ consciousness of God” 
and he seems to think we know a great deal 
about Jesus’ thoughts and self-understanding. 
At some points (for example, his discussion 
of the christological titles on pp. 27-30), Hick 
seems to be aware of the contributions of 
biblical scholarship, but elsewhere he uses 
scripture and speaks of Jesus as though there 
were no critical problems. A case in point is 
Hick’s discussion of the church. He suggests 
that Jesus founded the church, that he created 
“a community, a living corporate entity, a 



body of people of which the original nucleus 
was the group of disciples” (p. 67). One 
would like to see what evidence Hick has 
that Jesus understood his apostles to be “a 
living corporate entity.” 

Equally disturbing is Hick’s theodicy and 
his interpretation of life after death. If the 
world is a place for soul-making, if Jesus 
represents a human possibility (“what we 
may all ultimately become”), and if death is 
but the boundary between this world and 
the next stage in a series of “lives to come,” 
one cannot help wondering what has become 
of the doctrine of justification and the Chris- 
tian understanding of grace. The image of 
the Kingdom of God, as Hick interprets it, 
becomes more a curse than a blessing, more 
a burden than a source of hope. Human 
beings labor in this life and in the lives that 
await them on the other side of death under 
the impossible demand of “gradual growth 
of the human self towards its perfection.” It 
is difficult to know what grace and the for- 
giveness of sins mean in Hick’s scheme of 

The ambiguity concerning justification is 
indicative of a larger problem in Hick’s book. 
Although he argues that Jesus of Nazareth is 
the starting-point and the center of Christian- 
ity (p. 15), Hick does not always consistently 
hold to that methodological position. Often 
it seems that the theological center gives way 
to Hick’s speculative, philosophical interests. 
It is far from clear how one moves from 
Jesus of Nazareth to what Hick calls the 
“likelihood” of a series of lives in other 

There is much in this book and in the rest 
of Hick’s work that is worth reading and 
thinking about. His arguments are creative 
and original and his insistence that Christian 
faith be subjected to rational investigation is 
admirable. Although he occasionally over- 
states his case, his arguments against the tra- 
ditional interpretations of incarnation, theod- 
icy, and the status of non-Christians should 
be carefully considered. They deserve a 
thoughtful response. 

George W. Stroup 

Spren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Pa- 
pers, ed. and trans. by Howard V. Hong 
& Edna H. Hong (assisted by Gregor 
Malantschuk). Indiana University 

Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1967-78. Seven 
volumes. $145.00 complete set; individ- 
ual volumes from $20.00 to $35.00. 

People who are not Kierkegaard scholars 
ought to know about this edition of Kierke- 
gaard’s Journals , which though massive, is 
still only a selection from the twenty-volume 
Danish original ( Papirer , eds. Heiberg-Kuhr- 
Torsting) plus the two volumes of letters and 
documents (ed. Thulstrup) and hitherto un- 
published material now appearing as supple- 
ments to the Papirer (also ed. Thulstrup). 
It would appear at first sight that only the 
professional specialist ought to be concerned, 
since Kierkegaard’s twenty-one books should 
be more than enough to keep one busy with- 
out the need to trouble oneself with other 
material. That is certainly the way I felt when 
I, as an ordinary teacher of Kierkegaard and 
sundry other people, first opened these vol- 
umes. Happily, I soon found them immensely 
rewarding in two ways. 

First, the editors have rearranged the ma- 
terial and grouped it under various topics, so 
that the material in the first Jour volumes 
does not stand in the order in which it was 
composed. Here is a sample of the organizing 
topics: freedom, inwardness, ethics, com- 
munication. These subject headings are ar- 
ranged alphabetically, with a table of contents 
in each volume. Thus a person who has an 
interest in a particular idea or theme in 
Kierkegaard can quickly locate many relevant 
passages from his journals on that item. Since 
the material under each subject heading is 
arranged as far as possible chronologically, 
one can detect whatever changes in emphasis 
or direction there may be on a theme. The 
number of topics is very extensive; for ex- 
ample, there are fifty-three in the first volume 
and forty-three in the second. Unlike the first 
four volumes just described, the fifth and 
sixth consist of autobiographical material and 
letters arranged chronologically. But the 
seventh volume, which is an index to the 
entire set, makes it easy to find what one 
wants in them as well. 

The second happy discovery was the great 
help I received with some things that have 
puzzled me in Kierkegaard’s books. For ex- 
ample, Kierkegaard’s own position vis-a-vis 
the reform of the church was greatly illu- 
mined for me by just a couple of pages 
found by consulting the index — material 



which without this set I would never have 
known about. I was so excited when I found 
it that I said to myself, “If for nothing else, 
this would be worth the price of the volume.” 

There are many aids to the reader besides 
those mentioned so far. Each volume has a 
table which correlates its entries with the 
Danish Papirer , plus a composite table to the 
set in Volume Seven. So a person can deter- 
mine the chronological sequence by these 
references. Each volume also gives a six-page 
chronology of Kierkegaard’s life, with the 
publication of each work. Volume One has a 
bibliography of Kierkegaard’s works in Eng- 
lish translation, with secondary sources in 
English. In addition, the first four volumes 
have extensive notes and commentary (a total 
of some four hundred pages) which give a 
brief account of the basic concepts which 
serve as the organizing rubrics of the vol- 
umes. The commentary is supplied by G. M. 
Malantschuk, Kierkegaard Research Fellow, 
University of Copenhagen; the editors sup- 
ply bibliographic aids under each of the 
rubrics. The fifth and sixth volumes contain 
notes only. 

The editors explain that they first made 
their own selection (but not the basis of it) 
and then checked their choice against the 
actual use made of the Papirer by various 
Kierkegaard scholars in several countries, to 
confirm their own judgment and to expand 
the selection. They also checked their choices 
with other editions of selections in German, 
French, Italian, and Danish. 

A few blemishes in this magnificent 
achievement were detected. I found no reason 
why item 4151 is listed under “Psychology” 
in the Index (and the reference to the Papirer 
is given as IX A 353 in the text, but IX A 354 
in the Index). Item 4161, also listed in the 
Index under “Psychology,” has only a tan- 
gential connection to psychology. But to so 
quibble is indeed to quibble; for those of us 
who have hitherto had access to the Journals 
primarily only through the one-volume selec- 
tion by Dru, this splendid edition is indeed 
an eye-opener. 

Diogenes Allen 

Reaping the Whirlwind: A Christian 
Interpretation of History , by Langdon 
Gilkey. The Seabury Press, New York, 
N.Y., 1976. Pp. 446. $17.50. 

In this book Langdon Gilkey makes an 
important contribudon to the continuing 
discussion of eschatology and history, espe- 
cially as it relates to the political dimen- 
sions of Christian faith and the possibilities 
of hope within history. Quite likely the book 
will be spurned by some liberation theolo- 
gians as one more example of western ideol- 
ogy, but that will be unfortunate. Gilkey 
takes seriously the claims of liberation theol- 
ogy, but his appreciation is tempered by the 
conviction that the theological giants of the 
past generation, particularly Reinhold Nie- 
buhr and Paul Tillich, must be reckoned with 
in any attempt to formulate a theological 
interpretation of history. In the broadest 
sense, therefore, the book is Gilkey’s attempt 
to forge a synthesis between the tradition of 
Niebuhr and Tillich, on the one hand, and 
that of the more recent eschatological-libera- 
tion theologies, on the other. It is a risky 
enterprise, but I think it comes off rather 

The fundamental problem with the escha- 
tological theologies, according to Gilkey, lies 
in their inability to speak intelligibly of God’s 
relation to the present. Although Gilkey’s 
critique is overdone, the basic point is well 
taken. A God who creates “from the future” 
has as much responsibility for this present as 
any future present. The eschatological hope, 
therefore, for a future liberating action of 
God is credible only if we are able to speak 
meaningfully of God’s action in the present. 
To use more traditional language, eschatology 
(God’s work in and from the future) pre- 
supposes providence (God’s purposive work 
in the world at large). 

The attempt to articulate a doctrine of 
providence begins with an ontology of his- 
tory, which Gilkey, like Tillich, believes is 
both possible and necessary. However, Til- 
lich’s categories of self and world are too 
static for this task, and Gilkey opts for the 
more dynamic Whiteheadian categories of 
freedom and destiny. Thus history “moves” 
and is experienced in this interplay of free- 
dom and destiny, this bringing together of 
the historical given with the actualization of 
new possibilities. In a move very similar to 
that made in his earlier Naming the Whirl- 
wind, Gilkey argues that our experience of 
history, especially as manifest in political ac- 
tion and political judgment, is inexplicable 
apart from some principle of ultimacy. Hence 
it appears that the horizon of history “as we 



experience it in communal life is not as ‘secu- 
lar’ as our age . . . has supposed.” The im- 
plication is that an adequate interpretation of 
history must be a theological interpretation. 

Under the conditions of actual existence, 
however, one is aware also of estrangement, 
the warping of freedom and destiny and their 
transformation into sin and fate, respectively. 
It is here that the relevance of Christianity 
appears, for if one is to continue to affirm 
that history does have meaning, then natural 
theology must be superseded by kerygmatic 
theology, i.e., the ontology of history must 
give way to the symbols of judgment and 
redemption. This move is not to be inter- 
preted as part of one long argument, and 
Gilkey’s “Interlude on Method” in chapters 
5 and 6 symbolizes and gives emphasis to 
the methodological shift between the phe- 
nomenology of history in Part I and the 
Christian interpretation of history in Part III. 

In Part III, after analyzing the view of 
providence in Augustine and Calvin and ex- 
ploring the elements of the modern historical 
consciousness, Gilkey offers a critique of the 
understanding of providence in nineteenth 
century liberal theology, twentieth century 
Krisis theology, and the recent eschatological 
theologies. From this critique evolve certain 
principles that are woven into the construc- 
tive argument of chapters 10-12. The basic 
thesis is that each of these theological move- 
ments oversimplified its interpretation of his- 
tory by allowing one symbol of God’s activity 
in history to eclipse the others: Liberalism 
focused too exclusively on providence, Krisis 
theology on Christology (Incarnation), and 
eschatological theology on eschatology. Gil- 
key argues that a theological interpretation 
of history that does justice to the way his- 
tory is actually experienced must maintain a 
balance between these three primary symbols. 

The symbol of providence is explicated by 
Gilkey in terms of Whiteheadian metaphysics, 
slightly modified. Tillich-like, he suggests 
that God be understood, not as one cause 
among others, which would thereby abrogate 
the naturalistic principle of causation or ex- 
planation, but as the ground of existence, the 
necessary condition of freedom and destiny. 
God is both the principle of continuity in his- 
torical process, the one who unifies the modes 
of time and carries “forward the total destiny 
of the past into the present where it is actu- 
alized by freedom,” and the ground of pos- 
sibility and therefore of human freedom. 

The interpretation of providence in terms 
of ontological structures alone, however, can- 
not deal with the reality of sin which distorts 
that structure. Thus providence is also ex- 
perienced, as in the Old Testament prophetic 
model, in the cycle of judgment and renewal, 
the destruction of warped institutions and the 
actualization of new forms of life. Hence the 
need for political praxis to criticize and trans- 
form the socio-economic order. 

Following Niebuhr, however, Gilkey insists 
that the possibility of sin is not eradicated by 
the cycle of judgment and renewal. Political 
theology is both possible and necessary, but 
it cannot become the whole of the theologi- 
cal task. Since freedom is the ground of both 
creativity and sin, ambiguity is a permanent 
feature of historical experience, persisting into 
every new structure. Hence the symbol of 
providence alone cannot apprehend the mean- 
ing of history, but must give way to the sym- 
bols of Christology and Incarnation. It is in 
Jesus as the Christ, the New Being who makes 
possible a new form of life, that the problem 
of historical ambiguity is finally overcome. 
The divine participation in the estranged 
conditions of existence is the beginning of 
redemption; and because the “inner and out- 
er” are one history, the acceptance, forgive- 
ness and healing of the unrighteous cannot be 
stripped of its historical and political implica- 
tions. Christology also serves as the link be- 
tween providence and eschatology, because 
the kingdom of God as proclaimed by Jesus 
and manifest in him is the possibility and 
norm of history, the goal of providence. As 
the intention of God revealed to us in time, 
the kingdom is both a lure that summons us 
to actualize new possibilities within history 
and the norm by which our historical achieve- 
ments are to be judged. 

The final chapter sketches the implications 
of all this for a doctrine of God. What is 
most striking here is the notion of a self- 
limiting God who creates “a free contingent 
being that is not God or a part of God and 
whose actions are not God’s actions.” This 
has profound implications for a political the- 
ology, for it enables one to speak in a radical 
sense of human being as cooperator Dei. 

This book is pitched toward university 
academic theology, but the appeal of Gilkey’s 
thesis is surely much broader. I suspect, for 
example, that the book will be much appre- 
ciated by all those who recognize the validity 
of liberation theology while holding fast to 



the tradition of Niebuhr and Tillich. What 
emerges in these pages is a creative rework- 
ing of Niebuhr and Tillich that heightens 
the elements of temporality and sociality in 
human existence and offers a very original 
interpretation of providence. In addition, Gil- 
key is an articulate interpreter of both his- 
torical and contemporary thought, and the 
short descriptive sections on Bloch, White- 
head, Augustine, and others are lucid and 
helpful. The book deserves the serious atten- 
tion of academic circles, but it also has much 
to contribute to any careful reader interested 
in theology and politics. 

John C. Shelley, Jr. 

Franklin College 

The Boo\ of Daniel (The Anchor 
Bible), by Louis F. Hartman & Alex- 
ander A. DiLella. Doubleday & Co., 
Garden City, N.Y., 1978. Pp. xiv + 
346. $12.00. 

As indicated on the title page, this volume 
of The Anchor Bible series has been pre- 
pared by two distinguished biblical scholars 
from the faculty of the Catholic University 
of America. Father Hartman, professor of 
Semitic languages, who was asked to be the 
sole author of the work, completed before 
his untimely death in 1970, the translation, 
text-critical apparatus, and explanatory notes 
of all twelve chapters of Daniel as well as the 
commentary on chapters 1-9. After his death 
Alexander A. DiLella, professor of Old Testa- 
ment, completed the volume, writing the 
commentary on chapters 10-12 as well as the 
whole Introduction. 

The book is divided into two main sec- 
tions: the Introduction (pp. 3-1 10) and Com- 
mentary (pp. 127-315), with a Selected Bibli- 
ography (pp. m-124) and a short Appendix 
which includes the translation of Susanna, 
Bel, and the Dragon. 

The Book of Daniel is one of the most 
fascinating portions of Scripture, and for sev- 
eral reasons, one of the most difficult. It is 
divided into two roughly equal parts: Chap- 
ters 1-6 are six midrashic or edifying stories, 
narrated in the third person, and Chapters 7- 
12 contain four apocalypses in the first per- 
son form. The simple and easily remembered 
tales of the first part are told about Daniel, 
with no indication that he wrote them him- 

self since he is referred to in the third person. 
The second part describes four visions seen 
by Daniel and apparently written by him, 
since the first person is used in the account. 
These two disparate sections, composed of a 
number of independent elements, as well 
as substantial glosses or interpretations 
throughout the book, point to a multiple 
authorship and a long, complicated history of 
composition covering the period from about 
the third century B.C. to 140 B.C. (pp. n- 

Another feature that makes the canonical 
Book of Daniel different from every other 
book of the Bible is its peculiar bilingual 
character: Hebrew 1:1-2:43 and 8-12, and 
Aramaic 2:48-7:28. The authors of this com- 
mentary hold to the view that all twelve 
chapters had originally been composed in 
Aramaic, but in order to ensure canonical 
recognition the beginning (1:1-2:143) and 
the end (8-12) were translated into Hebrew. 
This theory of an Aramaic original for the 
book leads to a better understanding of the 
Hebrew text which in places failed to render 
accurately the presumed Aramaic of the Ur- 
text (pp. 14-15). 

Besides the material just discussed, the In- 
troduction contains a wealth of information 
on all matters of importance regarding the 
content, sources, versions and practical value 
of the Book of Daniel. Some of the subjects 
dealt with are: “Place in the Canon” ( 25L) , 
“The Hasidic Origin of the Book” (43k), 
“The Romance of the Successful Courtier” 
(55k), “The Greek Form of Daniel” (76k), 

In the chapter on “The Historical Back- 
ground” (pp. 28-42), the author indicates 
how modern scholarship has thrown new 
light on the origin and meaning of the 
“historical framework” of the four successive 
world kingdoms in Dan. 2 and 7. To the 
bibliography cited in the discussion may be 
added S. K. Eddy, The King is Dead: Studies 
in the Near Eastern Resistance to Hellenism , 

The Commentary section of the volume 
(pp. 127-315) consists of the translation of 
the text, notes and more full comments, both 
general and detailed. The translation is quite 
free in many places. A few spot passages may 
be noted to show the character of the exegeti- 
cal work and comments. The date of 606 
B.C. (“in the third year ... of Jehoiakim,” 
Dan. 1:1) is of course spurious and may have 



been inferred from such passages as 2 Kings 
24:1 and 2 Chron. 36:5-7. 

The search for the mysterious figure of 
Darius the Mede still goes on without any 
success (Dan. 6:1, 9:1). He is a completely 
fictitious character who emerges as the result 
of confusion and hazy memories in the minds 
of the authors of Daniel (pp. 36, 191). 

The “one like a son of man” (RSV) be- 
comes “one in human likeness” in The An- 
chor Bible translation. “Just as the four hor- 
rifying and vile beasts” (7:3-7) are not real 
animals but symbols, pure and simple, of the 
pagan kingdoms of the Babylonians, Medes, 
Persians and Greeks, so too the “one in hu- 
man likeness” is not a real individual, celesdal 
or terrestrial, but is only a symbol of “the 
holy ones of the Most High,” a title given, 
as we shall see, to the faithful Jews — men, 
women, and children — who courageously 
withstood the persecution of Antiochus IV 
Epiphanes. Hence, there seems to be no mys- 
tery as to the meaning and background of 
the “one in human likeness” (p. 87). 

The historical framework of the four king- 
doms (chaps. 2 & 7) is followed by a fifth 
kingdom, set up by God and eternal in dura- 
tion (2:44-5; 7:27). In 12:1-3 the apocalyptist 
sees the terrible persecution of Antiochus 
Epiphanes followed by a resurrection of faith- 
ful Jews to eternal life in God’s eternal king- 
dom. Only God can overcome the power of 
evil embodied in Antiochus Epiphanes and 
vindicate the faith of the holy ones. 

This commentary on Daniel, composed 
with the biblical scholar and interested lay 
reader in mind, is a useful addition to the 
literature on this enigmatic book. The prob- 
lems are clearly presented and discussed in 
the light of the most recent research on these 
matters. Above all, the profound religious 
and human dimensions of the Daniel stories, 
with their emphasis on hope and deliverance 
for all men and women of faith who must 
suffer for their beliefs, are never lost sight 
of in the exposition of the text. 

Charles T. Fritsch 

Theology as Narration: A Commen- 
tary on the Boo\ of Exodus , by George 
A. F. Knight. Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub- 
lishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich., 
1976. Pp. 209. $5.95 (paper). 

This is a book whose subtitle is indispen- 
sable, for it is not a systematic treatment of 
“theology as narration” but a rather straight- 
forward commentary on Exodus. The title 
comes from the author’s laudable attempt to 
treat the text of Exodus as a wholistic narra- 
tive, rather than a jumbled mixture of vari- 
ous literary sources and traditions. Knight as- 
serts that “some one person . . . wrote Exo- 
dus, in the same sense that some one person 
wrote Matthew’s Gospel” (xi). This person 
he identifies as “Ex,” a redactor who was at 
work c. 515 B.C. under the influence of the 
newly constructed second Temple and the 
great festival of Passover (Ezr 6.19). It was 
Ex who assembled the various sources (J, 
E, D, P) into final narrative form. 

One can only applaud the attempt to deal 
with the final shape of the text. Equally ap- 
pealing are Knight’s frequent efforts to sup- 
port a Jewish-Christian dialogue; his em- 
phasis on the primary importance of grace 
with respect to “law” in Exodus, and how 
this involves political liberation; his honest 
confrontation with hard questions (at Pass- 
over, 12.29-32 — “does God kill babies?” — p. 
92). Despite a clear conservative strain 
throughout the book, Knight castigates 
“fundamentalist literalism and biblicism” 
(54). At numerous points there is an overt 
application of the text to the situation of 
contemporary ministry. 

Despite these positive features, the com- 
mentary as a whole suffers from a number of 
major interpretive problems, only a few of 
which can be mentioned here. Knight’s as- 
sertions about the final redactor “Ex” are 
not substantiated by any sustained argument. 
Moreover, except for frequent references to 
the “story” or “picture” form of theological 
expression in the text, there is no treatment 
of the hermeneutical problems involved in 
speaking of a final “author.” While Knight 
often refers to the different sources in a given 
pericope, he refuses to deal with form-or 
tradition-criticism (cf. p. x), a decision 
which ignores the depth perception which 
such disciplines provide (e.g. the ways in 
which the forms and traditions of the pro- 
phetic “office” pervade Exodus 3-4). One 
must also question the extent to which 
Knight has allowed his judgment about the 
historical situation of “Ex” to color his in- 
terpretation of the text. Thus not only the 
situation of the second Temple is involved. 



but there are repeated references to Second 
Isaiah as a major influence on the final text 
of Exodus (e.g. pp. xi, 1-2, 36-37). 

There are some very annoying attempts to 
treat the text as a straight historical docu- 
ment. Some of these discussions involve the 
author in unnecessary and sometimes almost 
humorous irrelevancies (is Moses’ age at 
death really important [50], and do we need 
to bemoan the death of innocent fish in the 
plague of blood [59]?)- Others lead to more 
serious theological problems, some of which 
are outright distortions of the text to suit 
the author’s apparent bias: “Pharaoh’s order 
to choke the male babies at birth seems rea- 
sonable to natural man, especially today when 
millions in the West insist on abortion on 
demand” (6; cf. 140 on Exod 21.22). 

The author’s appeal for Jewish-Christian 
dialogue is no doubt sincere (“Just as there 
is only one Covenant, so there is also only 
one Israel of God” [46], cf. xii-xiv, 26-27, 
159). Nevertheless, one wonders how a Jew 
would read this commentary, with all of its 
importation of New Testament themes (espe- 
cially the God who “empties himself” and 
suffers). Even for Christians, Knight often 
seems to overstate his case: “Thus there is no 
discontinuity between the God of the exodus 
and the God of the NT whom we meet in 
the bloody figure of Christus Victor . . .” 

Other exegetical and theological problems 
abound. Knight frequently appeals to a dis- 
tinction between religion and revelation (only 
the latter, of course, is Biblical) which is ex- 
tremely simplistic: “Israel does not have a 
religion. Religion is that which man [sic, 
and frequently] thinks about the divine” 
(112). Thus the religions of Israel’s ancient 
neighbors, and of the contemporary world, 
are dismissed as human fabrications. The 
narrative of Exodus, on the other hand, is 
said to reveal “the mind of God” (a ubiqui- 
tous and curious phrase). Another problem 
is presented by Knight’s interpretation of the 
covenant, where there is no reference to the 
famous Hittite treaties, and Israel’s covenant 
with Yahweh is construed by way of Hosea’s 
theme of the marriage contract (e.g. 156), a 
construal which obscures the political and 
juridical aspects of the covenant. Similar dif- 
ficulties surround the author’s attempt to 
make the message of “Ex” one of universal 
application, often sounding more like Paul 
than P: “Thus Passover is God’s gift, through 

Israel, to all men, male and female [r/d], 
Jew and Gentile, bond and free alike” (95). 

In summary, despite the noble intentions 
of this commentary, it cannot be recommend- 
ed very highly, primarily because of its seri- 
ous exegetical and theological problems. 

Thomas W. Mann 

Jonathan Loved David: Homosexu- 
ality in Biblical Times, by Tom Horn- 
er. The Westminster Press, Philadel- 
phia, Pa., 1978. Pp. 163. $5.95. 

Tom Horner’s Jonathan Loved David is 
a book about homosexuality in biblical times. 
The book’s goal is to prove that Scripture, so 
far from condemning homosexuality, can be 
shown to treat it as an accepted practice. 
Thus Dr. Horner thrusts himself into the 
midst of a major church issue. This book is 
intended for interested laity and clergy. 
While the reader is not expected to be ex- 
pert in Biblical Criticism, the book is rooted 
in this science. Unfortunately the book fre- 
quently uproots itself by going too far in ap- 
pealing to the popular reader, e.g., in its 
frequent use of the King James’ Version. 
In his attempt to appeal to a popular audi- 
ence Horner, as shall be shown below, fre- 
quently neglects to treat scholarly arguments 
against his interpretation. 

Much of Horner’s argument is flawed. 
One example must suffice to illustrate his 
failure to take advantage of accepted schol- 
arship. This example is taken from the 
premier place to begin a critique of Horner, 
his chapter “David and Jonathan.” Having 
satisfied himself that tenth century B.C. Israel 
was characterized by a “society that for two 
hundred years had lived in the shadow of 
the Philistine culture, which accepted homo- 
sexuality; . . .” (p. 27f), Horner states “we 
have every reason to believe that a homo- 
sexual relationship existed” (p. 28) between 
David and Jonathan! Horner’s arguments 
rest on his interpretation of 1 Sam 18:1-4; 
20:3of; 2 Sam 1:19-27, an interpretation lack- 
ing any discussion of the word love, ’aheb. 
Surely it is dangerous to assume that the 
meaning of the term ' aheh is obviously sex- 
ual. M. Fishbane in “The Treaty Background 
of Amos 1 : 1 1 and Related Matters.” JBL 
89/3 (1970), pp. 314b cites 1 Sam 18:1-4 as 
a biblical parallel to the Vassal-Treaties of 



Esarhaddon. He finds 'aheb to be a covenantal 
term. This use also occurs in 1 Kg 5:15 (EVV 
5:1). Jonathan’s calling David his brother, 
1 Sam 20:9, is paralleled in 1 Kg 9:13. Surely 
Horner would not want to suggest that David 
and Solomon were so promiscuous as to have 
shared a homosexual liaison with Hiram! It 
is much more likely that in both 1 Sam and 
1 Kg we encounter covenantal language. Here 
'aheb is a technical term of obvious meaning 
to the participants just as, for instance, in- 
tercourse means conversation in some con- 
texts and in others a town in Pennsylvania. 
To assume that this is a tale of homosexual 
love overlooks the more obvious meaning, 
Jonathan and David participated in a politi- 
cal covenant. 

Dr. Horner is on safer ground in his chap- 
ters entitled “The ‘Dogs’ or homosexual 
'Holy Men’ ” and “All These Abominations.” 
He notes that all forms of cult prostitution 
were anathema to Yahwism. Horner goes on 
to assert that in condemning homosexuality 
the Israelite was actually censuring male cult 
prostitution. The question Horner leaves un- 
answered is whether or not the Yahwist either 
could have or cared to differentiate between 
the homosexuality of a cult prostitute and 
the homosexuality of a Yahwist? Or did the 
ancient theologians see the two as identical? 
To jump several centuries Paul’s argument 
in Rom 1:22-27 could be interpreted this way. 

The crux of Horner’s argument is found in 
his concluding chapter, “Jesus and Sexu- 
ality.” He states: 

. . . when the leader and, probably, most 
members of his group were single, it is 
only natural that some observers of primi- 
tive Christianity are going to suspect that 
homosexuality could have been a factor in 
this little group to a greater or lesser de- 
gree. (p. 1 17) 

Horner’s style is to present an extreme posi- 
tion, then refute it or propose one which 
in light of the first seems less extreme. He 
finally concludes: 

What is conclusive is that it is impossible 
to conceive of Jesus as displaying hostility 
toward anyone because of his or her sex- 
ual preferences — especially the kind of 
hostility that some of his followers have 
displayed toward others throughout history 
on account of their homosexuality, (p. 121) 

How does David’s relationship to Jonathan 

or Ruth’s to Naomi enhance our apprehen- 
sion of Horner’s conclusion? Especially in 
light of the poor scholarship involved in the 
chapter on David and Jonathan it would 
seem that Horner’s argument would pro- 
ceed more clearly without any appeal to these 
O.T. figures. Yet if one removes the treat- 
ment of David and Jonathan, as well as his 
even more problematical treatment of Ruth 
and Naomi, then Horner is incapable of elicit- 
ing any clear positive example of homosex- 
uality from the Bible. The most he can say 
is that Jesus, had he been confronted with 
the issue, would not have treated homosex- 
uality any differently than he handled adul- 
tery. But then are we not left wondering if 
Jesus would have said “Go and sin no 

Dr. Horner has totally neglected what may 
be the most important question in any practi- 
cal study of Biblical Ethics. He has not dis- 
cussed the authority of the Bible. Why should 
we care about the homosexual practices of 
ancient peoples? How is the Bible normative 
for us? Does he believe that his arguments 
facilitate dialogue between peoples? This 
book might have facilitated dialogues had 
Horner’s scholarship been more careful, but, 
alas, it was not. His grandstanding and un- 
convincing argument on David and Jonathan 
obfuscates his purpose. Biblical Theology is, 
of course, of vital importance to the church. 
But this book can only be of service if it is 
paired with a discussion of Gen i:26f; 2:18, 
23f. How does the call to heterosexuality im- 
pact the affirmation of homosexuality? If this 
question was answered then a service would 
really have been provided. 

Peter R. Powell, Jr. 

Handbook of Biblical Criticism, by 
Richard N. Soulen. John Knox Press, 
Atlanta, Ga., 1976. Pp. 200. $7.95 (pa- 

Richard N. Soulen is associate professor of 
New Testament at the School of Theology, 
Virginia Union University, Richmond. His 
Handbook, of Biblical Criticism arises out of 
a sensitivity to the pedagogical dilemma pre- 
sented by the fact that classroom lectures and 
introductory texts intended for the beginning 
student and non-specialist in the critical study 
of the Bible all too often presuppose a knowl- 



edge of the field few possess. As an initial 
effort to address this pedagogical need, 
Soulen’s Handbook, provides the reader with 
more than 500 technical terms, phrases and 
names basic to Biblical criticism. 

The entries in Handbook follow six cate- 
gories: Methodologies; Technical Terms and 
Phrases; Research Tools and Texts; Names; 
Theological Terms; and Abbreviations. Ar- 
ranged alphabetically with complete cross- 
references, Handbooks entries range from 
such basics as “Concordance” and “Lection- 
ary” to more exotic terminology such as 
Epinicion and Peripeteia. Users of Handbook 
will appreciate Soulen’s concise treatment of 
those ubiquitous terms and phrases taken 
from German Biblical scholarship, such as 
Gattung, Sitz im Leben, and Uberheferungs- 
geschichte, which frequently prove so trou- 
blesome to the novice. The 60-plus brief 
biographical sketches of key figures in the his- 
tory of Biblical research, from Albright and 
Alt to Wellhausen and Wrede, are as inter- 
esting as they are informative. 

Professor Soulen carefully notes that the 
definitions contained in Handbook "are of- 
fered as working definitions, not more” (p. 
8). These “working definitions” are designed 
to serve as an “abbreviated introduction to 
the methodologies of Biblical criticism” as 
well as to facilitate the student’s “use of estab- 
lished tools of scholarly research” (p. 7). Al- 
though Handbook is a non-technical refer- 
ence work, it is not devoid of detail. Soulen’s 
inclusion of a complete listing of the Nag 
Hammadi Codices currently published by 
E. J. Brill (Leiden) and his useful listing of 
the four systems of Hebrew transliteration 
currently in use in Great Britain, Germany 
and America, are just two examples of some 
of the particulars one ordinarily does not find 
in a non-technical handbook. 

In these days of continually escalating book 
costs, Professor Soulen’s Handbook °f Bibli- 
cal Criticism offers a wealth of information 
under one cover at a welcome price. It is 
truly a valuable vade mecum for the non- 
specialist, whether busy pastor, student, or 

William A. Hartfelder, Jr. 
Hebrew Union College 
Cincinnati, O. 

Biblical Backgrounds of the Middle 
East Conflict, by Georgia Harkness & 

Charles F. Kraft. Abingdon Press, 
Nashville, Tenn., 1976. Pp. 208. $7.95. 

In the Introduction to Biblical Backgrounds 
of the Middle East Conflict, Dr. Georgia 
Harkness states that an eschatological inter- 
pretation of Scripture vis-a-vis the modern 
Middle East is not the intention of the book. 
Rather, she states that the focus of this survey 
is “the political and social history of the peo- 
ple, and hence the bearing of this past upon 
the conditions of the present” (p. 13). How- 
ever, that the actual focus of the book does 
indeed extend beyond a socio-political ex- 
amination of the past’s impact upon the pres- 
ent is revealed both by the publisher and by 
Dr. Harkness herself! 

The Publisher’s Foreword states that Dr. 
Harkness “set out to write this book to help 
others understand the past as a ‘prologue’ 
to the present and the future ” (p. 5 italics 
mine). Similarly, elsewhere in the Introduc- 
tion, Dr. Harkness writes, that the book 
“deals mainly with the past, which should 
help us to understand the present, and to 
judge with some measure of probability as 
to the future" (p. n italics mine). This ap- 
parent confusion of purpose is reflected 
throughout the presentation of the ensuing 
survey material. 

Any criticism of Biblical Backgrounds must 
be tempered by the unfortunate fact that Dr. 
Harkness was taken ill and that her subse- 
quent death cut short the completion of her 
manuscript. Dr. Harkness’ survey was halted 
at the point of her abridgement of the biblical 
account of the United Monarchy under David 
and Solomon. As a result, we do not have 
a complete picture of how she would have 
presented the crucial application of the book, 
i.e. the bearing of the past as formative in- 
fluence upon the dynamics of the present. 
Dr. Charles F. Kraft, Frederick Carl Eiselen 
Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at 
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and 
one-time colleague of Dr. Harkness, com- 
pleted the manuscript by contributing the 
final four chapters of this ten chapter book. 

The fatal flaw of this effort by Drs. Hark- 
ness and Kraft lies in its methodology. The 
authors err in their assumption that a mere 
recitation of historical excerpts juxtaposed to 
selected, alleged parallels within the present 
is sufficient to establish an organic cause and 
effect relationship between the two. For ex- 



ample, following her five page summation of 
the Patriarchal Narratives in Genesis, Dr. 
Harkness tells the reader that “in these stories 
from the tenth century B.C. and somewhat 
later we see indications of kinship [between 
Arab and Jew], and also of clashes, fore- 
shadowing what was centuries later to become 
the Arab-Israeli conflict” (pp. 31-32). Like- 
wise, Dr. Kraft directs the reader to compare 
the efforts of the Zealots and the Sicarii to 
oust the Romans in the years following the 
death of Herod Agrippa I (44 C.E.) with 
“the terrorist activities of Jewish underground 
groups during the last days of the British 
mandate before 1948” (pp. 136-137; p. 142, 
fn. 16). The result of such unqualified com- 
parisons is an oversimplification of the 
complex conditions extant during these pe- 
riods of historical development in the Middle 

Biblical Backgrounds also suffers from the 
brevity of its “social and political” survey. 
The 31 pages of Chapter 8 recount Jewish 
experiences under the Persians, Greeks, Mac- 
cabees and Romans. Chapter 9, entitled 
“Jerusalem Through Three Millennia,” relates 
the city’s three thousand year history and its 
significance for Judaism, Christianity and 
Islam within a scant 25 pages of historical 
highlights. The consequences of such brevity 
are most severe in the final chapter entitled 
“The Past Within the Present.” The chap- 
ter’s 39 pages lightly touch upon the end of 
Turkish rule in Palestine, the British Man- 
date, the birth of Zionism, the birth of the 
State of Israel and the four Arab-Israeli wars. 
The tragedy of the Jewish Holocaust under 
Nazism as it affects the Middle East is inex- 
cusably oversimplified to three points: 

A. The Holocaust served “to galvanize 
Jewish Zionism into intense activity” 

(p- 179) ; 

B. It “won over” Jewish opinion in the 
United States to Zionism “and to the 
establishment of an independent Jewish 
state in Palestine” (p. 180); 

C. It released such a flood of European 
Jewish refugees in the immediate post- 
war years that Palestinians “have asked 
why they should be made to suffer . . . 
for the sins of modern Europe!” 
(p. 181). 

Although these points are not false, yet 
their isolation perpetuates an ignorance of 
the wider spectrum of the social, political and 
religious dimensions of the Holocaust as they 

affect both the Middle East and the world 
community of Arabs, Christians and Jews. 
The burgeoning bibliography of recent years 
by Christian writers on the Holocaust is only 
one indicator of the complexity of the topic. 

One must question the validity of a survey 
which seeks to describe the socio-political 
history of the Jews within the limits of their 
religious history as recorded in the Bible. 
Hebrew Scripture contains much material 
concerning pre-exilic Israel, but relates little 
after 586 B.C.E. Biblical Backgrounds, there- 
fore, commits a serious error in its complete 
omission of the almost 2,000-year development 
of post-biblical Rabbinic Judaism and its pre- 
eminent role in the identity and survival of 
the Jewish people up to the present! 

In a similar manner one is struck by the 
neglect of the bulk of specifically Arab factors 
influencing the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is not 
sufficient to employ Hebrew Scriptures as the 
main source for an understanding of the 
role of the Arabs in the Middle East. Cer- 
tainly Arabic cultural development and iden- 
tity has not languished in flaccid passivity 
since the days of Ishmael! It is imperative 
that there exist an awareness of the integrity 
of Arab history and the significance of the 
religious tenets of the prophetic civilizadon 
of Islam as they exert socio-political in- 
fluences upon the Middle East. The cry of 
“jihad,” Islamic Holy War, has been heard 
more than once during the history of the 
Middle East and its present turmoil. 

One must regrettably conclude that the 
rubric of “past as ‘prologue’ to the present and 
the future” as it is applied in Biblical Back- 
grounds o) the Middle East Conflict reduces 
the expansive complexity of the Arab-Israeli 
conflict to an uneven oversimplification. 

William A. Hartfelder, Jr. 

Donum Gentilicium: New Testa- 
ment Studies in Honour of David 
Daube, ed. by E. Bammel, C. K. Bar- 
rett, & W. D. Davies. Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, New York, N.Y., 1978. Pp. 
ix + 342. $37.50. 

The point of the title of this book of New 
Testament Studies, Donum Gentilicium, is 
that Professor Daube is a Jewish scholar, 
whereas the contributors are Gentiles. Pro- 
fessor Daube is a world-renowned authority 



on Roman law: he has held chairs in the 
Faculty of Law at Aberdeen and Oxford, 
and more recently (and concurrently) at 
Berkeley, California, and Constance, South 
Germany. He is also known for his studies 
in Jewish law and for the illumination that 
he has brought to bear from this area on the 
interpretation of the New Testament. His 
book on The New Testament and Rabbinic 
Judaism (London, 1956) is well-known as an 
outstanding contribution to both Christian 
and Jewish studies. One of his essays in that 
work left its mark on the rendering of John 
4:9 in The New English Bible, namely, “Jews 
and Samaritans, it should be noted, do not use 
vessels in common.” 

The present book contains contributions 
from twenty scholars — American, British, 
Canadian, Finnish, German, and Swedish. 
Eight of them are in English, twelve in Ger- 
man. W. D. Davies writes a warmly personal 
foreword and the twenty studies are followed 
by a “Bibliographia Daubeana,” stretching 
from 1932 to 1977. 

Several essays draw attention to the inter- 
relatedness of Judaism and Christianity. 
C.F.D. Moule offers an understanding of for- 
giveness in Christianity and Judaism under 
which God’s pardon is not merited, but is 
nonetheless conditional on one’s capacity to 
receive it (“forgive us as we have forgiven”). 
Walter Zimmerli compares the beatitudes of 
Matthew 5 with the Old Testament, and Otto 
Michel shows how Jewish visionary motifs 
can help the reader to understand the Da- 
mascus road traditions of Saul/Paul. Joachim 
Jeremias explores the Jewish cultic associa- 
tions of the Last Supper. Barnabas Lindars 
discusses the points of resemblance and dif- 
ference between Jesus and the Pharisaic 
teachers. J.D.M. Derrett looks at the parable 
of the friend at midnight from a fresh per- 
spective, concluding with comments on Jesus’ 
midrashic technique. C. K. Barrett carries 
forward the debate on the relation between 
the Jewish shaliach and the Christian apostle. 
E. P. Sanders deals with the fulfillment of 
the Mosaic law in Paul and Judaism. K. H. 
Rengstorf, dealing with Rom. n:i6f., not 
only uses Rabbinic analogies to explain the 
metaphor of the olive tree, but thereby ex- 
plains the structure of the Epistle itself. 
Birgen Gerhardsson relates I Cor. 13 to Paul’s 
rabbinical heritage, and Harald Riesenfeld 
sees in I Cor. 13:3 an allusion to Dan. 3:96 
(LXX). Wilhelm Wuellner explores the 

background of the triad “wise . . . mighty 
. . . noble” of I Cor. 1:26. Matthew Black 
looks at the Jewish and Christian origins of 
the two witnesses of Rev. n:3f. (he could 
also have mentioned the curious seventeenth- 
century sect of the Muggletonians whose two 
founders, Ludowicke Muggleton and his 
cousin, John Reeve, claimed to be the two 
witnesses!). Ethelbert Stauffer writes on the 
repeated commendation of young men in the 
Greek History of Susanna, and argues that 
neoteros in I Pet. 5:5, I Tim. 5:1k, Titus 2:6 
reflects the “Tamid” (a sort of rabbinic ordi- 
nand). Miss J. M. Ford analyzes the imagery 
of the heavenly Jerusalem in the Book of 
Revelation in relation to orthodox Judaism. 
Hugo Odeberg (now deceased) presents some 
curiosities from the cosmology of the Zohar. 
B. Freudenberger studies the meaning of 
Romanas caerimonias recognoscere in the 
Acts of Cyprian. Ernst Bammel reflects on the 
remark ascribed to Akiba that poverty in the 
daughters of Jacob is as lovely as a red bridle 
on the neck of a white horse. Morton Smith 
considers the permanence of the forced con- 
versions to Judaism under the Hasmonaeans, 
and Gosta Lindeskog outlines the beginnings 
of the so-called “Jewish-Christian” problem. 

As the reader will perceive, these essays 
cover a wide range of approaches and in- 
terests, many of which relate to the mutual 
illumination of Judaism and early Christian- 
ity, an approach well-exemplified by the 
scholar in whose honor this book was com- 

The craftsmanship of the book, it may be 
remarked in conclusion, is altogether in 
accord with the outstanding typographical 
work for which the Clarendon Press at Ox- 
ford is justly famous. 

Bruce M. Metzger 

Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 
by F. F. Bruce. Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. 
Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., 1977. Pp. 
49 1 - $! 3 - 95 - 

The Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism 
and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, 
England, has written a comprehensive vol- 
ume on the Apostle Paul that presents exten- 
sive worthwhile reading and information. 
F. F. Bruce (the Library of Congress card 
reveals the names “Frederick Fyvie,” remind- 



ing us that the familiar “F. F.” of the title 
page is not a name in itself) has contributed 
this excellent work out of his “love for Paul” 
and “to share with others something of the 
rich reward which” he himself has “reaped 
from the study of Paul” carried on over fifty 
years (p. 15). Despite its motivation, out of 
“love for Paul,” it is far from a sentimental 
work, but, as one would expect from F. F. 
Bruce, is, rather, written in a scholarly 
manner (but for wide appeal) and offers a 
wealth of facts along with a variety of 
opinions highly worthy of consideration. 

The only actual flaw in this undoubtedly 
commendable book is its lack of a scriptural 
index. The included index does indicate the 
pages on which, for example, he discusses 
Galatians, but one has to search through 
them to find exactly where he presents his 
views on Gal. 2 : 1 f. With the addition of 
such an index, the value and usefulness of 
this fine writing would have been greatly 
enhanced. It is possible, however, that the 
omission was an intentional one, if Professor 
Bruce perhaps did not wish his work to be 
employed as a reference work (for which it 
certainly can serve) but preferred that it be 
read from beginning to end consecutively. 

One other point that could be seen as a 
large drawback to Bruce’s book ends up, upon 
further reflection, to be an asset after all. 
That is, the author has determined the 
structure of his book by the outline of Paul’s 
activity as portrayed in Acts, the assumption 
thus being that to a great extent Acts pre- 
sents historical material. Acts, writes Bruce, 
is a “source of high historical value” (p. 16) 
and “the Paul of Acts is the historical Paul 
as he was seen and depicted by a sympathetic 
and accurate but independent observer” (p. 
17). Initially this perspective causes someone 
with less confident views on Acts as a source 
of history to look askance at much of the 
content of Bruce’s book, especially when Acts 
is used as the “framework” (p. 17) for 
Paul’s letters. But one soon discovers that the 
framework is extremely beneficial and handy, 
be it historical or not, and that the informa- 
tion is in no way decisively colored by 
Bruce’s opinions as to the framework’s his- 
torical reliability. In fact, what the frame- 
work does is to provide a truly interesting 
perspective for viewing Paul’s letters and 
life, and more important it serves as a wel- 
come corrective to the danger of seeing his 
letters and theology as somehow unrelated 

to history, but to the contrary as letters which 
both grew out of and responded to actual 
historical happenings, unable to be inter- 
preted apart from this grounding — an obvious 
point yet often unconsciously overlooked. 

The first of Bruce’s thirty-eight chapters 
(the brevity of each chapter, possibly in part 
due to their being an outgrowth of lecture 
material, is a help towards easier reading) 
deals with “The Rise of Rome,” and from 
this historical background he proceeds to a 
chapter on “Jews under Foreign Rule,” one 
on Tarsus, ones on Paul as a Roman citizen 
and as a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” one on 
Jesus, one on the beginning of the Church 
after the resurrection, and finally to chapter 
8, on Paul the “Persecutor,” and chapter 9, 
Paul the Christian. Once the reader arrives 
at the subject of the Apostle Paul specifically, 
the preceding historical setting proves ex- 
tremely helpful in comprehending Paul as an 
historical person of his own particular times 
and situation. 

In terms of arrangement of material, what 
Professor Bruce does is to pick up material 
from Paul’s letters according to how pas- 
sages relate chronologically to his life, e.g. 
Galatians 1, on Paul’s “conversion experi- 
ence,” is discussed early on (chapter 9), 
whereas other parts of Galatians are brought 
up as pertinent, whether concerning his rela- 
tion to the Jerusalem Church, the Antioch 
incident, the place of the law, or whatever. 
At the same time he brings in material from 
other letters (and Acts) that relates to 
whatever stage of Paul’s life is under discus- 
sion. Of course, he runs into some difficulties 
when this schema does not allow for the 
natural inclusion of certain subjects or con- 
tents of letters, e.g. his chapter on the sacra- 
ments (25) does not seem particularly logi- 
cally placed, but such feelings are negligible 
compared to the overall benefit, already indi- 
cated, of his framework. 

The three outstanding features of this work 
on Paul are: 1) its comprehensive inclusion 
of controversial exegetical issues on, seem- 
ingly, most Pauline passages; 2) its full 
references to articles on these same issues (the 
footnotes provide an excellent bibliography, 
especially as supplemented by four pages of 
bibliography, mostly books, in the back); 
and 3) its clarity of expression and its fair- 
ness in presenting views. Whether he is 
dealing with what “kata sarka” really means 
in II Cor. 5:16 (incidentally, he employs 


Greek words, but in a way that would not 
distract greatly the non-Greek reading per- 
son and yet adds considerable value for the 
others), what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was 
(this critic disagrees with Bruce’s insistence 
on its being a physical condition [p. 135]), 
whether or not Titus was circumcised, what 
the historical relation is between Gal. 2 and 
Acts 15, and so on — with whichever of these 
endless exegetical issues he is dealing with, 
the reader is exposed to a wide number of 
diversified opinions, not just Bruce’s, along 
with the sources for them. He presents the 
issues and the views with clarity and with 
fairness. For an author who could be termed 
“conservative,” it is a decided tribute to him 
that never does a reader have the impression 
that Bruce’s conclusion on an issue is based 
on any preconceived judgments but instead 
always on the evidence at hand as he sees 
and understands it. This attitude and pro- 
cedure is appreciated, as is also the manner in 
which Bruce will offer some speculative 
ideas, yet cautiously warn the reader that we 
simply do not know, e.g. what the source of 
the “mysteries” Paul shares is (p. 143; see 
e.g., I Cor. 15:51), whether or not Paul’s 
“mother” (Rom. 16:13) might have been the 
wife of the African Symeon who mothered 
Paul during his stay in Antioch (p. 149) — 
whatever the intriguing ideas speculated on, 
his concluding, humble attitude is respected 
and appreciated — an attitude at times absent 
in the work of Biblical critics. 

Bruce also has the ability to bring out 
points and see insights into passages which 
one could easily otherwise ignore, an ability 
surely cultivated over his years of experience 
with the words of Paul. For example, he 
discusses the surprising point that the Early 
Church never “brought to light,” so to speak, 
any saying of Jesus’ on circumcision when 
such a saying would assuredly and obviously 
have been helpful (pp. 101 & 105). Similarly, 
when Bruce brings out the probability that 
Paul “still submitted to synagogue discipline” 
during the stage of his career that he experi- 
enced the forty lashes less one (p. 127) and 
the likelihood that Paul must have directed 
his persecutions against the Hellenistic dis- 
ciples, most of whom had left Judea, since the 
Judean churches did not know him early in 
his career (p. 127), a reader who has studied 
Paul quite extensively wonders why such 
thoughts had not occurred to him or her 
without Bruce’s direction. Such points occur 


page after page in this book, and the end 
result is an extremely stimulating one. On 
few points can one readily criticize Bruce (e.g., 
that the self-sufficiency of Phil. 4:11 relates 
to Christ’s spiritual self-sufficiency [p. 142]); 
rather one (this reader, at least) normally 
agrees with the points he makes (e.g., that 
glossolalia for Paul was “of little value or 
importance,”) partly because he knew it to 
take place among pagans (p. 143). 

Bruce’s method of following Paul’s life 
and career according to the order of Acts is 
highlighted by the map in the (identical) 
front and back inside covers presenting Paul’s 
missionary journeys. In chapter 33 Bruce 
nears the end when he describes “Paul and 
Roman Christianity,” but follows this up 
with an entire chapter devoted to the letter 
to Philemon, the contents of which he pre- 
sumably could not fit in well elsewhere. Then 
in chapter 35, “Principalities and Powers,” he 
writes about parts of Colossians. Chapter 36, 
on Ephesians, follows, because he believes it 
to have been composed by Paul during his 
Roman imprisonment. (Bruce discusses the 
possibility of non-Pauline authorship but dis- 
cards it by going through Paul’s main themes 
and judging how they do appear in Ephe- 
sians. At one point this critic finds him in 
possible error when he justifies Ephesians 2:8, 
which speaks of salvation as a past event, by 
reference to Rom. 8:24, for despite the aorist 
of ' ‘we were saved” in the latter passage, the 
context and the “hope” in that verse may well 
show that Paul is viewing salvation as not 
yet completed by any means.) Although the 
chapter on Ephesians presents an interesting 
discussion and perspective, it seems unwar- 
ranted to have its purpose be that of main- 
taining Pauline authorship (this reader sees 
Ephesians as clearly containing Pauline frag- 
ments and “roots,” but not as a totality being 
by Paul), but his comments such as the 
letter’s relations to Qumran texts are certainly 
of value. 

In his next to final chapter Bruce cau- 
tiously entertains various possible sources for 
discovering what happened to Paul after Acts 
closes, so to speak. He considers the Pastorals, 
Clement, the Muratorian canon, and the Acts 
of Peter. His own belief is that Paul was 
released from prison, re-arrested, and finally 
beheaded in Rome, ca. 65 (p. 450). Among 
the 16 Plates Bruce includes, one is of the 
inscription discovered in 1835 which is 
thought to mark the place of Paul’s tomb in 



Rome, a possibility favored by Bruce because 
of its location in a pagan cemetery, “not the 
environment which later piety would have 
chosen” (p. 451). 

From chapter 4 through chapter 37 the 
reader is led from Paul’s birth to his death. 
The author has done a praiseworthy job of 
combining events and theology, of offering a 
possible progression of Paul’s life and 
thought, and certainly of forcing the fellow- 
admirer of Paul to ground Paul’s theological 
reflections in history and to refrain from 
lifting them into any irrelevant, invalid ab- 
stractions. Bruce has produced an amazingly 
complete “compendium on Paul” and has 
without doubt succeeded in sharing effectively 
both his love for Paul and his insights into 

Perhaps Bruce’s words on Paul in his final 
chapter (“Concluding Reflections”) can be 
not irreverently applied to Bruce himself: 
“He has something worth saying, and in say- 
ing it he communicates something of him- 
self. . . . And what he has to say is so 
important . . (p. 457). 

At the very end Bruce brings the reader 
back to part of the book’s title, Apostle of the 
Heart Set Free, based on II Cor. 1:17, and 
speaks of Paul as a “campaigner for spiritual 
liberty” (p. 474). Defending, apologizing for, 
and, in a sense, excusing Paul Bruce writes 
that Paul on principle denied “prejudices and 
discriminations” any place in the Christian 
community and “looked forward to the day 
when racial, religious, sexual and social preju- 
dices or discrimination” would be “banished 
from the whole new creation” (p. 474). It is 
as if Bruce recognizes that the man he so 
admires could be accused of falling short in 
relation to his own apostolic demands of 
love and equality, but wants readers to un- 
derstand that Paul existed, lived, in a different 
situation than our own: Paul awaited the 
near eschaton, yet in some sense lived in it; 
we must continually live as if it were to come 
tomorrow and yet as if it is never to come — 
and thus put into practice now some of what 
Paul — apostle of freedom — postponed. 

Bruce has written an important book. It is 
thorough for the scholar yet not overly com- 
plicated for the non-scholar. It is for any 
student of the Apostle Paul who, as Bruce, 
continually seeks to know and understand 
more clearly the man Paul and the words he 
wrote out of his love for Christ. 

Elizabeth G. Edwards 

The Debate About the Bible (Iner- 
rancy versus Infallibility), by Stephen 
T. Davis. The Westminster Press, Phil- 
adelphia, Pa., 1977. Pp. 149. $5.45 (pa- 

Stephen Davis’ intended audience in his 
book on biblical authority is the body of 
Christians who label themselves “evangeli- 
cals,” but a far wider audience can readily 
benefit from it. His principal concern is to 
bridge the gap between two wings of evan- 
gelicals — the more conservative and the less — 
or rather to allow the less conservative (such 
as himself) continued membership among 
“evangelicals.” He also wants to prevent any 
evangelical from ostracizing him/herself from 
the evangelical community because of an in- 
ability to accept the doctrine of inerrancy. He 
observes the devisive effect of those who 
insist on errancy, and with his doctrine of 
infallibility he attempts — and surely succeeds 
— in playing a mediating role as what could 
be termed a “reconciling evangelical.” 

One must say only “surely succeeds” be- 
cause whether or not his success is actual is 
an opinion that can rightly come solely from 
one who considers him /herself an “evangeli- 
cal.” (This reviewer finds adequate challenge 
in struggling with being/becoming a Chris- 
tian without worrying about the branch of 
Christianity in which one’s membership lies.) 

Davis, associate professor of Philosophy and 
Religion at Claremont Men’s College, has pro- 
duced a book clearly expressed, concisely 
written, logically structured, soundly argued, 
and in many parts helpfully outlined by 
numbered points. The very progression of his 
chapters witnesses to the logical mind of the 
philosopher he is: His first chapter reviews 
the doctrine of inerrancy held by many evan- 
gelicals; each of his three succeeding chapters 
picks up one of the three main, usual argu- 
ments in favor of inerrancy and shows the 
weaknesses, loopholes, escape-gaps, and down- 
falls of each one. First there is the “Biblical 
Argument,” i.e., that the Bible itself claims 
inerrancy for itself; then the “Epistemological 
Argument,” i.e., that if one does not know 
the Bible as inerrant, one can know for 
certain no doctrines of the Christian faith; 
and finally the “Slippery Slide Argument,” 
i.e., that if one slips away from inerrancy, 
one will slip away from all evangelical posi- 
tions. (He terms these arguments the EA 


and the SSA, but why did he not call the first 
the BA?) Exactly what these positions are is 
never fully clarified, but he suggests that 
among others three are: humanity’s lostness 
in sin and need for redemption, Christ’s 
bodily resurrection, and people’s need for 
commitment to Christ (p. 83). In the fifth 
chapter Davis turns from refuting these three 
arguments for inerrancy to refuting the actual 
claim itself. In the following chapter, “In- 
fallibility,” he presents his own, preferred 
alternative doctrine, and finally in the seventh 
chapter he discusses some serious repercus- 
sions (“Implications”) to take into account 
for whichever of the two views one holds. 

Near the beginning of his book and fre- 
quently throughout (e.g., pp. 16 & 23) Davis 
clarifies the distinction, for him, between 
“inerrant” and “infallible,” the former pro- 
fessing no errors of any sort, on any subject, 
to be contained in the Bible, and the latter 
professing no erroneous or misleading state- 
ments related to faith and practice. As Davis 
himself sees, any word can be employed to 
speak of Biblical authority as long as one 
qualifies it sufficiently to suit one’s own 
views! He is somewhat willing to give up 
“infallible” in favor of a more positive word 
(note how both familiar terms state what the 
Bible does not do; this reviewer is certainly 
attracted to the idea of a word which states 
what the Bible does do!), but partly for the 
sake of tradition, he prefers to hang on to it 
(pp. 1 i8f.) . (Why, this reviewer wonders, any 
single word whatsoever? Perhaps to facilitate 
discussion; perhaps because of some need to 
be assured of a common ground.) 

Since Davis’ critics will complain that he in 
some sense does not say enough for the Bible, 
it is interesting when he makes the com- 
mendable point that inerrancy probably does 
not say enough about the Bible (p. 29) ! That 
is, inerrancy concerns itself with the Bible’s 
factual claims and neglects to see that such 
terminology is irrelevant to many of the 
Bible’s literary forms, e.g., liturgy, poetry, 
ethics. Davis is so clearly correct, and one 
wonders how an inerrantist could deny such 
a point. 

Another noteworthy point made by Davis 
concerns the inerrantist’s belief that actual 
inerrancy lies in the autographs — the original 
manuscripts — not in the manuscripts available 
today. He wonders whether the inerrantist 
would worship the autographs if they came 
to light, despite the Bible’s command against 


idolatry (p. 80)! (One naturally wonders, 
anyway, what sort of idolatry is actually 
taking place in any extremely conservative 
views about biblical authority.) 

A weak point in Davis’ book is his fifth 
chapter, "The Case Against Inerrancy.” He 
begins by giving four arguments against in- 
errancy: (1) lack of support in Scripture; 
(2) problems raised by inerrantist’s device of 
appealing to “intention”; (3) emphasis on 
the wrong tasks (i.e., minutia rather than 
proclamation); and (4) illusion that all 
Christianity stands or falls on the defense of 
inerrancy (see p. 94). The problem is that 
No. (1) simply repeats, essentially, his argu- 
ments against “BA”; No. (2) is still against 
inerrancy’s arguments, not quite inerrancy 
itself; and Nos. (3) and (4) concern not the 
doctrine but the results of holding to this 
doctrine, as valid and important as his last 
two points are. In this same chapter, after 
discussing six passages in which the Bible 
does err, so to speak (e.g., the relative size of 
the mustard seed and whether or not the 
disciples were to take along staffs on their 
missionary journeys), he concludes with four 
reasons why inerrancy is not defensible. But 
it is confusing, for these four reasons ( [1 ] 
Bible does not teach inerrancy, but [2] seems 
to point the opposite way; [3] philosophical 
arguments do not succeed; and [4] doctrine 
is open to various difficulties — pp. 112-113) do 
not coincide with the four with which he 
began his chapter! 

At several points one admires Davis’ atti- 
tude, e.g., in his general openness, his willing- 
ness to admit that his view of infallibility may 
one day be proven fallible, and his confession 
that determining what parts of the Bible 
concern faith and practice, not to speak of 
which are “crucial” to faith and practice, is 
a task full of ambiguities (cf. e.g., p. 125). He 
sees and admits the weaknesses of his own 
position. One point, however, that he seems 
not to admit is that nowhere does he explain 
what he means by saying “the Bible is the 
Word of God.” He freely denies definitions 
such as containing the Word and becoming 
the Word (pp. 114 & 115), but does not 
offer a cogent description of his own under- 

Probably Davis’ most “right on” statement, 
in this reviewer’s opinion, comes in his final 
chapter when he writes: “I find these pre- 
dictions [which inerrantists make in regard 
to what will happen if the church does not 



embrace inerrancy] hard to credit, for I see 
God at work in the world constantly creating 
new situations and new opportunities for 
his people” (p. 131 ). It is this concept of 
“newness” — actually of God’s freedom — 
which this reviewer sees inerrantists as so 
dangerously shutung out; perhaps she is 
wrong — perhaps not. 

The most — if not really the only — disap- 
pointing comments of Davis come in his 
final chapter. It should be said, first, that 
throughout the book this reader continually 
wondered whether from the viewpoint of 
evangelicals each time Davis wrote “evan- 
gelical Christian” one could actually, in their 
eyes, cross out the “evangelical.” One hoped, 
however, that Davis did not hold with this 
possible perspective. But then he writes: 
“How do we decide who is an evangelical 
and who is not?”, and proceeds to discuss 
passages in I John since it “deals more than 
any other [book] with the question of criteria 
for who is in the fellowship and who is not” 
(p. 132). That Davis does after all see “evan- 
gelical” as synonymous with “Christian” (if 
one assumes that being “in the fellowship” is 
synonymous with being a Christian) is ob- 
viously disappointing. Such an attitude on 
his part and others leaves one extremely 
fearful — fearful, that is, not for the non- 
evangelicals (whoever they are), but for the 
evangelicals, and thus for a fairly large part 
of the present Church. 

Regardless of these impressions, all in all 
Davis has written a book valuable not only, 
it is hoped, in reconciling evangelicals “intra- 
murally,” but also helpful for non-evangelicals 
in obtaining a clearer idea of the debate 
taking place therein. Also the book encour- 
ages one to come to terms with one’s own 
view towards biblical authority and, if it is 
vague and inarticulate, to vow to strengthen 
it in a defensible, effective, and articulate 

Elizabeth G. Edwards 

Reflections on History and Hope: 
Yesterday, Today, and What Next?, 
by Roland H. Bainton. Augsburg Pub- 
lishing House, Minneapolis, Minn., 
1978. Pp. 141. $3.95 (paper). 

This paperback original offers Professor 

Roland Bainton of Yale’s reflections on the 
meaning of history as seen with the observant 
eyes of a distinguished church historian, pon- 
dering deeply on the adequacy of various 
patterns proposed for the understanding of 
human history. 

These include, successively, fate and for- 
tune as controlling human destiny, the cycli- 
cal theory of history, the 18th and 19th cen- 
tury notion of progress, the failures of success 
and the successes of failure (the most im- 
pressive example of the latter is the crucifix- 
ion of Christ), and causation (involving a 
discussion of the causes of the failure of the 
Roman Empire). 

Next Dr. Bainton considers theological 
insights into the meaning of history. A chap- 
ter on God in History deals with both 
iniquity and inequity, and is illuminating on 
Abraham’s dilemma — to save the boy Isaac at 
the cost of disobeying God’s command to 
sacrifice him — when discussing Luther’s and 
also Kierkegaard’s defense of Abraham’s de- 
cision, which Bainton believes was a wrong 
one! He sides with Erasmus whose rejoinder 
to Luther’s “Let God be God!” was “Let God 
be good!” The ensuing chapter deals with the 
Jesus of History and textual difficuldes as 
well as those created by the nature miracles. 
An admirable chapter discusses the historicity 
of the Resurrection of Jesus. Professor Bain- 
ton recognizes that many have testified to the 
impact of the living Christ on their lives and 
that “there is absolutely no doubt that the 
resurrection has been cardinal in Christian 
experience, both as a ground of assurance for 
our own immortality and as a source of 
strength and comfort through an indwelling 
spirit” (p. 77). The following chapter deals 
with the Christ of Faith and considers the 
adequacy of the christology of gnosticism, 
kenoticism, and adoptionism, the three op- 
tions considered by the early Christian com- 
munity. The Church in History is the theme 
of the next chapter, showing how the church 
has dominated society, withdrawn from so- 
ciety, or collaborated with society. 

“Today and What Next” considers the crises 
of the present, and “The Historian’s Craft” 
which deals with finding the evidence, decid- 
ing what is reliable evidence and assessing 
its meaning. In this chapter in particular 
there is far too much compression. 

Generally, however, the work is written 
with a wide overview of history both secular 


and sacred, with telling and vivid anecdotes, 
and a deep compassion for humanity, and is 
well worth its modest price. 

It is marred, however, by a few obvious 
errors, probably of proofreading or of mem- 
ory. The important battle at which Constan- 
tine believed Christ gave him the victory 
was at the Milvian bridge (not the Mwlvian 
bridge as appears twice on p. 120). It was 
the Luddite riots in which workmen smashed 
their looms, not ‘Ludlow’ as on p. 102. 
Nkrumah was the Ghanian leader, not ‘Nkru- 
maj’ (p. 1 14) and, most curious error of 
all, Bainton’s former colleague wrote not 
Christianity and Culture but Christ and 
Culture (p. 136). One great bonus for all 
former students of Professor Bainton or of 
the admirers of his biographies of Luther 
and Erasmus is the excellent speaking like- 
ness of him on the front page, a portrait by 
Deane Keller now in the Yale University Art 
Gallery, evocative of the liveliness and com- 
passion of a great Christian humanist. 

Horton Davies 

Princeton University 

Calvinist Preaching and Iconoclasm 
in the Netherlands, 1544.-1569, by Phyl- 
lis Mack Crew. Cambridge University 
Press, Cambridge, 1978. Pp. 221. $19.95. 

This fine historical study by an Associate 
Professor of History at Rutgers University is 
a publication in the distinguished new series 
of Cambridge Studies in Early Modern His- 
tory. While not a book for the general read- 
er, though clearly and imaginatively written, 
it should be of considerable general interest 
to Presbyterian and Reformed ministers in- 
trigued by the behavior of their forbears in 
unsettled times like our own in the Nether- 
lands of the mid-sixteenth century. 

Dr. Crew’s main concern is to understand 
the causes of the much discussed events of 
the “Troubles” of the year 1566, when Prot- 
estant ministers and lay preachers gathered 
vast crowds who in various southern cities 
and towns engaged in iconoclasm. Oddly and 
happily enough, this image-breaking was not 
accompanied with cruelty to Catholic priests, 
such as occurred at roughly the same time in 


Hitherto the “Troubles” have been ac- 
counted for as a purely social protest on the 
part of the disinherited, or as a rehearsal for 
the later Dutch Revolt on the part of Calvinist 
ministers. Professor Crew shows convincingly 
that each hypothesis fits only a selection of 
the facts. Her own view, greatly simplified, 
is that the moderateness of the iconoclasm is 
explicable in terms of the general desire for 
both social and religious authority, and 
through the political ambiguity of the min- 
isters and hedge preachers, and the varying 
backgrounds of the ministers who were in 
exile. Such restraint would be overcome only 
when King Philip’s and the Duke of Alva’s 
intentions were only too vindictively clear, 
and persecution would fuse both Reformed 
ministers and people to the flashpoint of 

This is a superb study of materials in 
Dutch, Flemish, French and English sources 
and interpretations, with narrative vividness, 
and a high independence of judgment. 

Horton Davies 

The Priest in Community : Exploring 
the Roots of Ministry, by Urban T. 
Holmes, III. The Seabury Press, New 
York, N.Y., 1978. Pp. 193. $9.95. 

Teaming Through Liturgy, by Gwen 
Kennedy Neville and John H. Wester- 
hofT, III. The Seabury Press, New York, 
N.Y., 1978. Pp. 189. $9.95. 

These two books mark exciting advances 
in the discipline of Christian Education. 
While still insisting on the importance of doc- 
trine and ethics in the intellectual, active 
mode, they wish to complement this with the 
recognition of the importance of sacred nar- 
ratives, symbols, and ritual, which represent 
a passive mode of apprehension. For Pro- 
fessor Westerhoff this requires a marriage of 
cathechesis and of liturgy, each reinforcing 
the other. His book, in which the symbolic 
and ritualistic mode’s significance is prepared 
for by a fascinating study made by Professor 
Gwen Kennedy Neville of folk liturgies in 
the American South (including an intriguing 
analysis of the Presbyterian Montreat com- 
munity in the summer) affirms the important 
insights of anthropology for understanding 


1 88 

the role of religion. In his view — and few 
will quarrel with him — one has only to con- 
trast the initiation rite into an African tribe 
going through disorientation, and liminality 
to reorientation — to see how trivial and stereo- 
typed confirmation or admission to church 
membership has become in most Christian 
Communions today. He insists, rightly, that 
Christian ritual is the most powerful factor 
integrating the Christian community and 
transmitting its values from generation to 
generation. It is the insights of cultural an- 
thropology and of the history of religions, 
as well as those of psychology, which are 
making Christian Education so fascinating 
a field of study and practice. 

Dean Urban T. Holmes has written more 
than an interesting volume: it is provocative 
of thought, revisionist in no superficial way, 
and highly relevant. Apart from his extraor- 
dinary humanness (a gift which only obtrudes 
when he tells us twice in the same book that 
he is six feet six inches high), his humor, and 
his honesty, he deploys skilled insights from 
analytical and historical psychology (Jung to 
Julian Jaynes), primitive anthropology and 
cultural anthropology, physical sciences, and, 
most especially, the history of philosophy. His 
anecdotes and citations are admirably fresh 
grist for the preacher’s mill. 

Both books will illuminate the priest’s and 
minister’s calling, reassure him (or her) of 
its worthwhileness, suggest developments of 
which he may be only partially aware, and 
temptations which must be overcome to main- 
tain authenticity as God’s representative in 
creating order out of the disorder of our 
life, and entering into the demonic experi- 
ences of others as an angel, and in our secu- 
lar and overrationalized world acting as a 
“mystagogue” — to use Holmes’s favorite word 
— for the man or woman of God in authority. 

There are spots on the sun. I noticed Laco 
daire” twice misspelled on p. 140 of The Priest 
in the Community, while Learning through 
Liturgy has a plural subject and singular verb 
on p. 21, and “principle” instead of “princi- 
pal” on p. 151, and a rather reluctant 
“emerged” instead of “immersed” in baptism 
on p. 156. 

Horton Davies 

Magnolia Christi Americana : Boo\s 
l and II, by Cotton Mather, ed. by Ken- 

neth B. Murdock (with the assistance 
of Elizabeth W. Miller). Belknap Press 
of Harvard University Press, Cam- 
bridge, Mass., 1977. Pp. 500. $25.00. 

Cotton Mather is, as Edmund S. Morgan 
recently called him, “the Puritan you love to 
hate.” A controversial figure from his own 
day to the present, Mather has earned brick- 
bats for his role in the infamous Salem 
witchcraft trials, his egotism, his attempts to 
reinterpret Puritan theology in a New Eng- 
land undergoing significant social, political, 
and religious change. And yet, partially be- 
cause of his incredibly prolific and prolix pen 
and partially because of his tremendous intel- 
lect, he simply cannot be ignored; historians 
still flock to him and his writings in some- 
what the same fashion that the American 
press remains fascinated with Richard Nixon 
— although there are obvious limits to the 

Mather was, quite simply, a genius. He was 
the grandson of two of the founders of 
Massachusetts Bay, Richard Mather and John 
Cotton, and the son of Increase Mather. He 
began his studies at the Boston Latin School, 
and by. the time he was twelve, he could 
speak Latin, “had composed many Latin ex- 
ercises, both in prose and verse,” and “con- 
versed with Cato, Corderius, Terence, Tully, 
Ovid, and Virgil." The latter’s Aeneid pro- 
vided him with the cadences for the famous 
opening section of the Magnolia-. “I WRITE 
the Wonders of the CHRISTIAN RELI- 
GION, flying from the Depravations of 
Europe, to the American Strand." By the 
age of twelve, he had also mastered Greek 
and worked through much of the New 
Testament and began his study of Hebrew, 
which he polished at Harvard, along with 
his study of “ Logic and Physic ,” “the Use of 
the Globes ,” arithmetic (“as far as was ordi- 
nary”), and “in a Word, describing the 
Circle of all the Academical Studies.” He 
was graduated by Harvard in 1678, when he 
was sixteen, the youngest student who had 
received the A.B. from Harvard, and took 
a master’s degree in 1681. 

Mather continued to develop this extraordi- 
nary learning, and his literary corpus is enor- 
mous. His most extensive work — a commen- 
tary on every verse of every book of the 
Bible — remains, perhaps mercifully, unpub- 
lished, but a bibliography of his writings 


contains more than 400 titles. The Magnolia , 
especially Books I and II, has attracted the 
greatest historical interest, and Sacvan Ber- 
kovitch recently used Mather’s biography of 
John Winthrop, “Nehemias Americanus,” as 
the basis for his penetrating reinterpretation 
of Puritanism, The Puritan Origins of the 
American Self. Book I consists of a survey of 
the early history of the New England colo- 
nies, and Book II is a series of biographical 
sketches of the lives of the governors of the 
colonies. Published as it was in 1702, the 
Magnolia was a work of historical apologetics 
— an attempt to defend the New England 
experiment in creating a holy commonwealth 
before its detractors in Britain but also to 
remind a new generation of New England- 
ers of the historical legacy which they had 
to sustain and live up to. In many respects, 
the First Great Awakening — with its promise 
of sudden conversion and its reorientation 
toward the future — was a response to the 
awful burden of history which Mather and 
others had placed upon a New England still 
on its errand in the wilderness. 

This new edition of Books I and II of the 
Magnolia makes the text available with su- 
perb introductions. There are two gracefully- 
written essays by Murdock, one on Mather’s 
career and another on the writing and sub- 
sequent evaluation of the Magnolia ; in addi- 
tion, George H. Williams has provided an 
excellent analysis of the motif of the wilder- 
ness that so profoundly shaped Puritan con- 
sciousness and subsequent American religious 
and social history. The scholarly apparatus 
is beyond cavil. Mather’s Magnolia is filled 
with puns, allusions, parodies, and references 
to other works, and these sources are iden- 
tified in the notes, a prodigious job of his- 
torical research and detective work. It is little 
wonder that one contemporary observed of 
Mather, “His Library is very large and nu- 
merous; but, had his Books been fewer when 
he wrote his ‘History,’ it would have pleased 
us better.” Murdock and Elizabeth Miller 
have done what Mather himself did not do, 
and this volume stands as a model of his- 
torical editing par excellence. 

John M. Mulder 

Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform: 
An Essay on Religion and Social 
Change in America, i 6 oy-igyy, by Wil- 


liam G. McLoughlin. University of 
Chicago Press, Chicago, 111 ., 1978. Pp. 
239. $12.50. 

This volume represents another contribu- 
tion to the Chicago History of American 
Religion, a series edited by Martin E. Marty, 
and the author comes to his subject after 
extensive work on American evangelicalism, 
including studies of Isaac Backus and the 
New England Baptists, a survey of nineteenth 
and twentieth century revivalism and biog- 
raphies of two of revivalism’s most notable 
practitioners — Billy Sunday and Billy Gra- 
ham. The book is, in many respects, a major 
work, despite the author’s disclaimer of it as 
“an essay” and its relatively brief length. In 
its scope, it is the most far-reaching attempt 
to analyze the phenomenon of religious 
awakenings in American history; in its in- 
terdisciplinary approach, it breaks new 
ground and sets the awakenings at the heart 
of American culture, rather than viewing 
them as fringe movements that are inter- 
esting only in terms of their impact on 
churches or because of some of their more 
bizarre manifestations. 

The key to understanding McLoughlin’s 
thesis lies in his utilization of anthropological 
and sociological methodologies, preeminent- 
ly the work of Anthony F. C. Wallace. Using 
Wallace’s concept of “revitalization move- 
ments,” McLoughlin argues that American 
culture has witnessed five “awakenings,” 
which he defines as periods of “fundamental 
social and intellectual reorientation of the 
American belief-value system, behavior pat- 
terns, and institutional structure.” These 
periods of revitalization have interacted with 
“a constant culture core of rather broadly 
stated beliefs” (p. 10), redefining and rejuve- 
nating personal and social identity at times 
of severe cultural strain. Revivals represent 
the impact of revitalization on individuals, 
but awakenings are social and cultural in 
their impact and scope. In short, the history 
of awakenings is not merely the history of 
religious and theological change but basic 
alterations in the structure and self-under- 
standing of American culture. 

The common core of cultural values which 
serves as the touchstone for awakenings is 
seen by McLoughlin as in large measure a 
product of Puritanism and the American 
colonial experience. The first of the awaken- 



ings was the early years of Puritan settle- 
ment itself, but McLoughlin resorts to tradi- 
tional terminology and periodization in 
analyzing the First and Second Great Awaken- 
ings. The final two awakenings will come as 
the greatest surprise to historians; McLough- 
lin dates them from 1890-1920 and “1960- 
i99o(?).” These last two chapters will un- 
doubtedly prompt the strongest dissent and 
debate. I find his argument of revitalization 
compelling and convincing for the “Great 
Awakenings,” but in the latter two, he is 
forced into describing cultural change almost 
exclusively, and the actual religious com- 
ponent of this change is markedly reduced. 
It is less than clear why the heyday of 
Dwight L. Moody should be subordinated 
to the relatively brief and meteoric career of 
Billy Sunday; it might also be argued that if 
cultural change is the key factor, then ear- 
lier periods might warrant the term “awaken- 
ing,” e.g., 1690-1730 or 1850-1880. Despite the 
many defects of McLoughlin’s last chapter 
on the contemporary awakening, it does pro- 
vide a perspective on American religious life 
and culture different than that of Sydney 
Ahlstrom, who emphasizes “declension” and 
cultural disintegration in current religious 

One of the virtues of McLoughlin’s treat- 
ment is that his sociological approach does 
not mean a neglect of religious ideas, which 
are seen as central to the transformations 
of American society. An irritating and inex- 
cusable defect of the book is the absence of 
footnotes in lieu of a bibliographical essay. 
As a whole, McLoughlin’s work will serve 
as the basis for new work in American so- 
cial and religious history; if his thesis is ac- 
cepted, it will mean that no understanding of 
American society will be complete without a 
full acknowledgment of the crucial changes 
represented and embodied in the awakenings. 

John M. Mulder 

Religion in the Old South , by Donald 
G. Mathews. University of Chicago 
Press, Chicago, 111 ., 1977. Pp. 274. $10.95. 

For far more than a century, it has been 
obvious to Southerners and non-Southerners 
alike that there was something different, 
something unique about the religiosity that 
was spawned and nurtured south of the 

Mason-Dixon line and carried into the twen- 
tieth century and into the White House dur- 
ing the 1970s. The unique qualities of this 
religion have been hinted at, alluded to, and 
sometimes described, but in every case they 
seem to have eluded even the most percep- 
tive observers. Southern religion remained 
in definition roughly comparable to one 
judge’s formulation of pornography: he 

couldn’t tell you what it was, but he knew 
it when he saw it. 

Donald Mathews, Professor of History at 
the University of North Carolina at Chapel 
Hill, has attempted in this brilliant book a 
historical survey and a thematic interpreta- 
tion of Southern religion and culture, and 
the result is one that will provide new in- 
sight and perspective on an enduring religious 
tradition in American society. His earlier 
work focused on Methodism and slavery and 
on American abolitionists, as well as the 
history of the South, and it is clear that this 
volume represents the fruit of that earlier 
research and a vivid moral vision. C. Vann 
Woodward suggested many years ago that the 
South could serve as an archetype for the 
struggles of the American conscience, and 
Mathews’ analysis confirms that insight. Read 
in the late 1970s, his book will reinforce and 
confirm the anguish which racism, sexism, 
and class have brought to the American 
churches and the society. 

Religion in the Old South is actually an 
analysis of Southern evangelicalism. As such, 
it spends relatively little space on the seven- 
teenth century and the weak and ineffectual 
role of Anglicanism; further, it focuses pri- 
marily on the growth of evangelical Protes- 
tantism from the mid-eighteenth century 
through the heightened sectional antagonisms 
of the mid-nineteenth century. Baptists and 
Methodists provide the core of the story, al- 
though Mathews’ treatment is not denomina- 
tional but attempts to analyze the underlying 
evangelical ethos of the South. 

Mathews sees in early evangelicalism a 
movement with profund implications for 
transforming the social order. It provided 
lower- and middle-class whites with a clear 
interpretation of life and firm moral stand- 
ards, but Mathews also emphasizes the way 
in which it offered a sense of community 
and identity for people who found them- 
selves at the fringes of Southern society and 
alienated from it. Like H. Richard Niebuhr 
before him, Mathews sees the gradual ascent 


of evangelicals into the middle and upper 
classes as a gradual compromising and weak- 
ening of the moral fervor that lay deep in 
the evangelical impulse. But ironically, as the 
white evangelicals “matured,” they also 
turned to the black slaves among them in 
missionary activity, and it was these Afro- 
American Christians who received, adapted, 
and ultimately transformed evangelicalism 
into an eloquent statement of God’s triumph 
over suffering, evil, and even death itself. 

Two aspects of Mathews’ book merit special 
attention. First, he describes the develop- 
ment of an evangelical conception of wom- 
an’s “sphere,” similar to the notion prom- 
ulgated by Northern clerics, but in the 
South, the “lady” took on additional impor- 
tance for undergirding the moral order of 
slave society. In the mother was lodged the 
primary responsibility for training in moral- 
ity and religion within the home, which 
simultaneously restricted women but also 
provided a relatively autonomous sphere in 
which they could function. Like the slaves, 
they were subordinate to the control and 
domination of white men, but evangelical 
women sometimes grasped the connection 
between the equality they were offered in 
Christ and the possibility of challenging their 
status and the institution of slavery. The 
ideology of the slave system was based on 
the suppression of both blacks and women; 
the opposition to slavery was occasionally 
found in a recognition of their common 
lot. Too often, however, the political realities 
of the South and the power of the slave 
regime kept that potential alliance from 
being realized. 

Second, Mathews strongly emphasizes a 
theme which has become the central finding 
of new research into religion and the Afro- 
American experience in slavery. In spite of 
considerable ambivalence and sometimes hos- 
tility toward evangelizing the slaves, and 
despite the extensive Christianization of the 
slave population, blacks did not appropriate 
a Euro-American Protestantism without mak- 
ing significant alterations in it. Aspects of 
African religions and culture interacted with 
Christianity to form Afro-American Chris- 
tianity — highly evangelical at its core but 
demonstrably different from its white counter- 
part. The most significant difference, Math- 
ews argues, was the black conception of God 
as an apocalyptic God, intervening in history 
to judge the righteous and the evil, over- 


turning the temporal order, and justifying 
the elect people. At times this could lead to 
the bloody insurrection of Nat Turner, who 
saw himself as a prophet appointed by God 
to avenge evil, but more often it gave a sense 
of confidence and assurance that amidst all 
depravation, God would prevail. The most 
provocative and eloquent description of this 
characteristic of black Christianity comes 
in Mathews’ analysis of the famous sermon, 
“The Sun do Move,” by the black preacher, 
John Jasper. As whites thrilled to the ca- 
dences of Jasper’s preaching and saw in it a 
repudiation of modern science, blacks saw 
something quite different, says Mathews. At 
the heart of Jasper’s vision was a God who 
would disrupt even the laws of nature to save 
a people in bondage and distress. 

There are portions of this book that do not 
read easily, and there are times when one 
wishes for more evidence for the bold gen- 
eralizations and sweeping changes the author 
makes and describes. Yet it is a deeply mov- 
ing and inspiring book, a summons to face 
the legacy of the past and a challenge to re- 
shape the future. 

John M. Mulder 

The Open Secret: Sketches for a Mis- 
sionary Theology, by Lesslie Newbigin. 
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Com- 
pany, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1978. Pp. 
214. $4.95. 

Scorned and lauded, missionary activity 
has been viewed as arising from a multitude 
of mixed motives. The existence of at least 
four such reasons for mission have been 
observed by Walter Freytag (the “pietist,” 
“ecclesiastical” or “churchly,” “humanist” 
and “apocalyptic”) but, of course, there are 
others. They probably vary to the extent that 
there are different views of the Kingdom of 
God. A proper understanding of Christian 
mission is a question which elicits heated 
debate as much today as, for example, in the 
days of the first Gentile mission. Missiologist 
Lesslie Newbigin, a founder of the Church of 
South India and for several years Director 
of the Division of World Mission and Evan- 
gelism of the World Council of Churches, 
outlines in this book what he refers to as 
the “open secret” of missionary activity: 
“proclaiming the Kingdom of the Father, 



sharing the life of the Son and bearing the 
witness of the Spirit.” 

While this does not strike one as particu- 
larly novel at first, Newbigin uses this trini- 
tarian motif for mission in a helpful struc- 
tural way. Following the Willingen (West 
Germany) world missionary conference in 
1952, with its emphasis upon the missio Dei 
(that the source of mission is in the triune 
God), he first sketched out his thesis in a 
pamphlet entitled, “Trinitarian Faith for To- 
day’s Mission.” Newbigin has further de- 
veloped this material in lectures delivered at 
Princeton Theological Seminary in the sum- 
mer of 1977 and succeeds in presenting here 
a brief, yet highly informative, readable in- 
troduction to this controversial topic. This 
is not a work of academic scholarship yet 
the insights which are developed in terms of 
“missionary principles and practice” (to use 
a definition of missiology coined by Robert 
Speer) are as deep as Newbigin’s service to 
the church has been long. From the Second 
Vatican Council to the pronouncements of 
numerous Protestant theologians there has 
come in recent years a reaffirmation of the 
missionary character of the church, of the 
task that this implies, and a renewed con- 
fession of a pilgrim people for new openness 
toward the world to which the church is 
sent. The “grammer” for such a multifarious 
task is provided by and integrated in the 
triune God according to Newbigin. 

Mission has three aspects. It is the proc- 
lamation of the Kingdom of the Father with 
a mandate that extends as wide as universal 
history. Here mission, as faith in action, is 
molded by tribulation and faithful witness 
under the sovereignty of God. God’s hidden 
program became public in Jesus, however, 
who is the face of God’s mission. Newbigin 
argues that to be faithful to the facts of 
Jesus’ person and work, the first generation 
of disciples had to alter Jesus’ own preaching 
of the Kingdom to a proclamation about 
Jesus. For the “Kingdom, or kingship, of 
God was no longer a distant hope or a face- 
less concept. It now had a name and a 
face. . . .” For Newbigin, the church can 
hold and live by this faith because Jesus was 
“designated Son of God in power . . .” (Rom. 
1:4). This proclamation is not the property of 
the church but of the Spirit of God. ‘Mis- 
sion is not just church extension. It is some- 
thing more costly and revolutionary.” It is 

something done by the Spirit who, as the 
witness, changes both church and world. 

As the church stands on the threshold of 
the third millennium after Christ’s birth, in 
the midst of violent changes and shifts in the 
world situation, penetrating theological ques- 
tions need to be dealt with. For example, 
what really is the definition of salvation? 
Why practice religion at all? Are we dealing 
with a merely enhanced form of the ego, of 
subjectivity, as was confidently asserted as the 
pious nineteenth-century wore on? Why 
should religion be seen as a proper area of 
concern? Newbigin sketches an answer here 
which takes us to the heart of the christo- 
logical debates. For the question of authority 
is one that lay at the center of Jesus’ min- 
istry. With a dependence upon the work of 
Oscar Cullmann and Joachim Jeremias, we are 
presented with one who suffered for the sins 
of the world, who did not come to found a 
religion so much as to be the light, life and 
Lord. A strong Augustinian interpretation 
is applied which points us again in the direc- 
tion of the Trinity as the only satisfying an- 
swer to the question posed by the person of 
Jesus. This answer is presented through 
Michael Polanyi’s post-critical philosophy but 
it is obviously an area which requires a great 
deal of continued reflection as we face the 
implications of Nicene theology today. 

The intriguing feature of Newbigin’s par- 
adigm is that it offers so much room for an 
interplay of form and freedom in missiologi- 
cal thought. This is particularly important 
with regard to what Arthur Johnston has 
recently called “the battle for world evan- 
gelism.” With lines being drawn between 
Lausanne (1974) and Bankok (1977), New- 
bigin offers a structure which has the po- 
tential of combining both a concern for the 
justice of God in the world on a supracon- 
gregational level with that of repentance at 
the congregational level. With all of his talk 
about a trinitarian rather than simply chris- 
tocentric missiology, what one does look for, 
but not always find, is a fuller theological 
foundation for mission which reaches be- 
yond an appeal to the person and work of 
Jesus — as vital as that may be. A helpful 
sketch for this can be seen in the recent work 
of Johannes Verkuyl who begins to lay the 
biblical foundation for mission in the Old 
Testament. Following the work of Johan 
H. Bavinck, J. Blauw, and Hans Werner 
Gensichen, Verkuyl attempts to look at the 



structure of the biblical message in the Old 
Testament, pointing to four motifs: that of a 
universal horizon, God’s work of rescue and 
liberation, election as a call to service, and 
Yahweh’s opposition to the powers set against 
his liberating and gracious authority. 

Not only does one come away from New- 
bigin’s “sketch for a missionary theology” 
wishing for more in the area of founda- 
tional work but the usefulness of his trini- 
tarian thesis for breaking out of present mis- 
siological impasses could be further exploited. 
For example, a too narrowly christocentric 
mission leads to a focus upon Jesus as an 
ideal type or model to be followed (along the 
lines of nineteenth-century Unitarian mis- 
sions) on the one hand, or, on the other, 
to a pietistic monism of exclusively other- 
worldly concern (along the lines of funda- 
mentalist mysticism). With a trinitarian em- 
phasis in mission one is able to more fully 
keep in balance many facets of Christian 
faith with a view toward the entire scope of 
God’s work in the world. 

All that has been said thus far about New- 
bigin’s threefold model is put to fruitful theo- 
logical use as he presents, in briefly and 
clearly articulated terms, four of the chief 
theoretical and practical problems in current 
missiological discussion: (i) the question of 
the gospel in history; (2) the efficacy of lib- 
eration theology; (3) the debate over the 
(Fuller) “Church Growth” movement; and 
(4) the question of the encounter between 
the gospel and other living religious tradi- 
tions. In this fourth area the strength of 
Newbigin’s trinitarian paradigm is clearly 
seen. It provides him with what he calls “the 
grammer of dialogue.” As all share in the 
common nature of the Father, we can be 
open to truth wherever it may be found. As 
particular members of Christ’s body, we par- 
ticipate with others in work and dialogue 
out of a deep sense of commitment, standing 
vulnerable and exposed, seeking truth in 
humility but not fearful of sharing our 
knowledge of it. Finally, this is done in full 
reliance upon the Holy Spirit who is the 
source of change for ourselves and others. 

In a day when all of our motives are being 
“sifted like wheat,” the burden of missiology 
brings the question to the church: does her 
life conform to his calling to be like the “salt 
of the earth” and “the light of the world?” 
In W. A. Visser ’t Hooft’s words, this is the 
“time of testing” for Christian missions — 

but not only for missions. For as both Karl 
Barth and Emil Brunner have said, if the 
church fails in her missionary obligation she 
is no longer the church. Like Christ, the 
church has been sent into the world not for 
her own welfare but for the world’s. New- 
bigin’s book will serve as a balanced and 
helpful guide through many of the current 
missiological issues. (For a more detailed 
study of this topic, however, one will have 
to go beyond this to something like the re- 
cently translated study by Johannes Verkuyl, 
Contemporary Missiology , translated by Dale 
Cooper, published by Eerdmans, 1978.) In 
our day of tremendous religious pluralism 
and interest, The Open Secret is a must for 
any pastor’s library and would serve as a 
useful basis for an adult church school class 
concerned with modern Christian missions. 

Rodney L. Petersen 

American Apocalypse: Yankee Prot- 
estants and the Civil War, 1860-1869, 
by James H. Moorhead. Yale University 
Press, New Haven, Conn., 1978. Pp. xiv 
+ 278. $17.50. 

There was more at stake in the American 
Civil War than the maintenance of the polit- 
ical union. Lincoln described America as the 
world’s “last best hope.” It was the redeemer 
nation anointed by God to show the world 
that men could live together harmoniously 
in a republican society. That Lincoln, no 
churchgoer, interpreted American history in 
millennial terms suggests how much mille- 
narianism pervaded the northern conscious- 
ness and defined the meaning of the Ameri- 
can Civil War. 

The war galvanized the northern Protes- 
tant establishment’s commitment to the idea 
of America as a redeemer nation. For north- 
ern Protestants, who dominated the Ameri- 
can “mind,” the war was an apocalyptic 
struggle. The discipline of the war promised 
to cleanse the nation of its excessive mate- 
rialism and divisive individualism. The war 
bred consensus on previously contested issues 
such as abolition, and it imparted to all social 
reform and political ideology a stronger evan- 
gelical tone. The expected victory of Chris- 
tian armies, marching to the “glory of the 
coming of the Lord,” promised to cast out the 
evil demons of slavery, states’ rights, and self- 



ishness. The discipline of the war would 
forge internal social cohesion and shared 
loyalty to northern Protestant values of sobrie- 
ty, industry, probity, and benevolence. The 
war would prepare the nation for the mil- 

It did not work out that way. The corrup- 
tion of the Gilded Age and the pusillanimous 
efforts to reconstruct the South disillusioned 
the “true believers.” The South’s tenacious 
resistance to northern Protestant values dem- 
onstrated that the war had not been the 
Armageddon of the republic. New problems 
of urbanization, industrialization, immigra- 
tion, and scientific theories which challenged 
traditional Protestant beliefs all reemerged 
with greater force after the war to confound 
and undermine the millennial promise. Most 
important, the millennial expectations of 
northern Protestants left them unprepared 
to deal with the ambiguities and paradoxes 
of a modernizing America. They prayed for 
total victory and apprehended total defeat. 
There was no middle ground. As Moorhead 
concludes, they could only receive disappoint- 

Moorhead has written a brilliant book. He 
synthesizes an enormous literature on Amer- 
ica’s sense of providential destiny and under- 
stands the ambivalence among Protestants 
about their God and country. He recognizes 
that the belief in America as the new Israel 
led to divergent reactions among Protestants 
when they addressed specific social problems. 
Some became radical reformers; others be- 
came conservatives willing to leave temporal 
affairs to God alone. The war did not resolve 
these differences so much as it disguised 
them. More important, Moorhead reveals the 
danger of an idealistic conception of Ameri- 
can destiny. By presenting the Civil War, or 
indeed any war, as a decisive religious test, 
Protestants made armies and navies, govern- 
ment, the arbiters of God’s people and 
institutions. They relinquished to secular au- 
thorities their claims to higher law and dis- 
sent. They also encouraged a bellicose na- 
tionalism in which any aggressive act could 
be justified as extending Christ’s kingdom. 
Such rhetoric echoed during the Spanish- 
American War, World War I, and in more 
recent struggles. In that sense, Moorhead 
has written a book of warning as much as 
a first-rate study of the northern Protestant 
mind and millenarianism in mid-nineteenth- 

century America. All of us will profit by read- 
ing and pondering this insightful book. 

Randall M. Miller 

Saint Joseph’s College 
Philadelphia, Pa. 

The Missionary Enterprise in China 
and America , ed. by John K. Fairbank. 
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 
Mass., 1974. Pp. 446. $16.50. 

This symposium is welcome in a time when 
the Peoples’ Republic of China is seeking to 
relate to the outside world and when doors 
are being opened for a better understanding 
of recent developments in Chinese life and 
culture. It is also welcome because it seeks to 
examine the origin, development, effect and 
the success and/or failure of Protestant mis- 
sions in China, to examine and evaluate the 
relation of missions and missionaries to 
Chinese culture, to Sino-American political 
relations, to Chinese nationalism, and to 
Chinese Communism. It also sheds light on 
the image of China which missions and mis- 
sionaries portrayed to their American sup- 
porters. This book also recognizes a fact that 
has been ignored by historians, namely that 
historians have passed by the missionary as 
“the invisible man of American history.” 
After all, for more than a century mission- 
aries were the main contact points between 
the Chinese and the American peoples. 

After an introductory chapter by Editor 
John K. Fairbank, on “the many faces of 
Protestant missions in China and the United 
States,” twelve collaborators provide schol- 
arly chapters on a variety of subjects. Their 
studies are divided into three parts: Protes- 
tant Missions in American Expansion; Chris- 
tianity and the Transformation of China; 
Chrisdan Mission Images and American 

While Americans and Chinese were in- 
volved in each other’s histories since 1784. 
people-to-people contact occurred during 
about one century, mostly under the unequal 
treaty system from the 1840s to the 1940s. 
The first Protestant missionaries were part 
of the Anglo-American community at Can- 
ton in 1830, but by the 1860s after wars with 
Britain and the treaties which opened up 
China’s main treaty ports, pioneer mission- 
aries began to enter the interior. By 1920, 



some 5,000 missionaries were scattered across 
China, including wives who often served as 
teachers or nurses. Include the British and 
European missionaries, and there was an im- 
pressive establishment of churches, hospitals, 
schools, colleges, and other institutions in 
China. These were inherited by the Peoples’ 
Republic of China in 1949. “By that time,” 
says the editor, “it became evident that few 
Chinese were likely to become Christians 
and that the missionaries’ long-continued ef- 
fort, if measured in numbers of converts, had 

An investigation of this historical process 
and the present situation is the objective of 
this book. The relation of the Gospel to 
Chinese language and culture is discussed, 
as are many interesting aspects of the mis- 
sionary enterprise in China: the theology of 
missions, the relation of missions to the mili- 
tary and political “opening up” of China, 
the attitude and stance of Protestant missions, 
missionaries and Chinese Christians towards 
the nationalistic and the Communistic rev- 

It is interesting to note that the Chinese 
Communist revolution has stressed the spread 
of literacy to everyone, the publication of 
journals and pamphlets in the vernacular, 
the education and equality of women, the 
abolition of child-marriage, the importance 
of public duty over family and filial obedi- 
ence, the increase of agricultural production, 
public health clinics, discussion groups, the 
acquisition of western knowledge and tech- 
nology to improve life. The editor affirms 
that “Missionaries in the nineteenth century 
pioneered in all of these activities.” Yet, Com- 
munists today resent any mention of this past 
record of the missionaries. 

Indeed, missionaries especially in educa- 
tional centers and colleges were “spiritual re- 
formers” whose work involved them in every 
aspect of social reform; thereby they con- 
tributed to the revolutionary changes in 
China. And they also contributed to the 
American public response to them. Their im- 
pact upon American policy, however, is not 
too clear. There is little indication that the 
government in Washington listened to the 
missionaries in determining foreign policy 
towards China. 

There is much in this volume concerning 
the relation of missions in China to American 
expansion and imperialism. It also raises the 
question as to whether one culture can pene- 

trate another, and if one religious tradition 
is able to penetrate another. Indeed, penetra- 
tion did take place but often not in the 
manner in which the missionaries intended. 

As for imperialism Arthur Schlesinger 
writes that Christian missions were a po- 
liter,” and perhaps, therefore, a more “insidi- 
ous” kind of imperialism. Yet, he is inclined 
to be more charitable in his assessment of 
missionary imperialism, calling it a “cultural 
imperialism,” especially in medical and edu- 
cational missions. This somewhat “superior” 
method is expressed in the way Americans 
have been active in nation building in Japan, 
Korea, and to some extent in Vietnam. 

The editor calls attention to the enormous 
opportunities that await scholars in pursuing 
further studies in this area. While the British 
have long been at work on their records 
dealing with their relations to China, “the 
exploratory surveys and case studies in this 
volume suggest the dimensions of the mis- 
sionary contact and its repercussions, as yet 
largely unexplored, in China and America.” 

This volume is a mosaic or series of case 
studies on the missionary enterprise in China 
and America by competent and objective 
Sino-American scholars with two or three 
exceptions. Therefore, it lacks the warmth 
and the spirit that is usually associated with 
missionary histories written by participants 
in the enterprise. Yet, it is a pioneer study 
by historians who are beginning to take 
seriously the part of missions and mission- 
aries in the relation of China to America. 
Further, it is a study that will be helpful in 
the relation not only of Protestant missions 
and missionaries to Chinese and other cul- 
tures today, but of Christian missions and 
missionaries to other religions and the cul- 
tures to which they are integrally related. 
And it certainly will be a critical guide to 
any proposals by Christians anywhere in their 
approach to the Peoples’ Republic of China. 

Elmer G. Homrighausen 

Architect of Unity: A Biography of 
Samuel McCrea Cavert , by William J. 
Schmidt. Friendship Press, New York, 
N.Y., 1978. Pp. 338. $9.95 (paper), $14.95 

The author of this fascinating and com- 
prehensive biography of Samuel McCrea 



Cavert brings to his task a long study of and 
association with his subject. He had access 
to sources in the libraries of the National 
and World Councils of Churches, and in the 
private papers and letters of the Cavert fam- 
ily. Close associates of Cavert, among them 
Mrs. Cavert. Robert T. Handy, R. H. Edwin 
Espey, Roswell Barnes, have provided him 
with many personal details. Yet, the author 
admits, “He (Cavert) became, indeed, my 
chief mentor in things ecumenical.” 

As one who knew “Sam,” worked with 
him, and who has been involved in the ecu- 
menical movement, the reading of this book 
by the reviewer has been a refresher course 
recalling and illuminating many first-hand 
experiences of past years. 

We have in this volume the lively story of 
a prominent leader of American and World 
Protestantism covering half a century. Al- 
ways his life and activity are seen within 
the context of the history of American and 
European Protestantism, through two world 
wars, their ramifications, and their conse- 
quences. For about three decades Samuel 
McCrea Cavert was the executive of the 
Federal Council of Churches, then of its 
successor the National Council of Churches. 
During that time he was also actively en- 
gaged in the development of the ecumenical 
movement and the shaping of the World 
Council of Churches (he was largely instru- 
mental in giving it that name). After serving 
the National Council of Churches, he was 
named Executive Secretary of the New York 
office of the World Council of Churches. 

The McCreas and the Caverts of Charlton, 
New York, were rooted in Scotch-Irish Pres- 
byterian piety and doctrine. Though modi- 
fied into an “evangelical liberalism” through 
the years, this heritage was the cohesive cen- 
ter of Sam’s entire lifetime. Graduated from 
Union College, summa cum laude, where he 
was president of the YMCA, he earned an 
M.A. in Philosophy from Columbia Univer- 
sity, the B.D. from Union Seminary in New 
York, was ordained, assisted William Adams 
Brown at Union Seminary for a year, traveled 
on a Fellowship to India and the Far East, 
enrolled in the Graduate School at Harvard, 
enlisted as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army, 
started work on the War-Time Commission 
of the Churches and became Secretary of 
the Committee on the War and the Religious 
Outlook of the Federal Council of Churches. 
He married Ruth Miller in 1918 and suffered 

her tragic death after the birth of their daugh- 
ter, Mary. Then his conciliar work in the 
Federal, National, and World Councils of 
Churches began. 

In 1920 he became the Associate Secretary 
of the Federal Council of Churches; in 1921 
he became the General Secretary of the Fed- 
eral Council. His marriage to Ruth Twila 
Lytton in 1927 was an interesting and fortu- 
nate episode in Sam’s pilgrimage; it was 
blessed with great benefits to both parties over 
many years. From then onward Sam was 
busily engaged in travels, visits, consultations, 
and meetings before and after the War relat- 
ing to the formation of the World Council 
of Churches, its first (Amsterdam), second 
(Evanston), third (New Delhi), and fourth 
(Uppsala) Assemblies. He attended the Third 
Session of Vatican Council II, and the Church 
and Society Conference in Geneva, 1966. 

Schmidt illuminates many facets of Sam’s 
life and work and relates them to personali- 
ties, events, and critical issues. Sam was 
early torn between the quiet academic life 
and the tensions and confidence of an execu- 
tive career. Schmidt writes honestly about 
the painful but creative crises into which Sam 
was thrust: the bitter criticisms of the Fed- 
eral Council, the charge of Communism 
against the Council, the Flynn controversy, 
and the “denominational barrage.” Later, he 
was caught in the tensions between the Euro- 
pean and American types of Christianity. 

Through all his career, Sam consistently 
believed that Christianity offered (1) per- 
sonal salvation, (2) social justice, and (3) 
Christian unity. Through his mediation he 
brought Dr. and Mrs. Martin Niemoller to 
the United States; through his persuasion 
Karl Barth wrote his provocative letter to 
the American Christians. He believed that 
isolated and independent divisions among 
Christians could be overcome through co- 
operation, consultation, and the cultivation 
of a spirit of unity. There were men more 
visible in their leadership during his life- 
time, such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Bishop 
Oxnam, and Fosdick, but Cavert by his quiet, 
winsome, reasonable approach, through ad- 
dresses, articles and conferences played a 
more lasting and effective role in the con- 
ciliar movement. One can learn from him 
how a gentle, courteous, friendly man of 
integrity, wisdom, and character can live and 
work and achieve in the midst of exasperat- 
ing pressures. 



Not only is this volume an exciting biog- 
raphy of Cavert, “architect of unity,” but it 
is a valuable account of the story of the 
ecumenical reality in this century and the 
persons, events, crises, and problems which 
it involved. That reality cries out today for 
leaders with similar insight, conviction, dis- 
cernment, zeal, and temperament. 

Elmer G. Hormighausen 

A Concise History of the Christian 
World Mission: A Panoramic View of 
Missions from Pentecost to the Present, 
by J. Herbert Kane. Baker Book House, 
Grand Rapids, Mich., 1978. Pp. 210. 
$4.95 (paper). 

The author believes that all committed 
Christians should have a working knowledge 
of the Christian world mission. And because 
books on the subject are too long, too heavy, 
and too detailed for popular use, a shorter 
and more usable book should be written. The 
result is the present volume. 

Kane’s book is divided into two parts: 
Part I, Missions Through the Ages from 
Pentecost to William Carey; and Part II, 
Around the World. Part Two includes the 
expansion and development of Protestant 
missions in the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries, missions in the Muslim world, in 
Asia, Africa, Latin America, and in Europe, 
concluding with two chapters of missions in 
retrospect and prospect. 

The book includes facts and figures on 
Christianity in various parts of the world, a 
list of significant dates in mission history and 
a comprehensive index. Dr. J. Herbert Kane 
has served as a missionary to China, has 
written extensively on missions, and now 
teaches World Mission and Evangelism at 
the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. 

The story of missionary activity and ex- 
pansion from 30 to 1850 A.D. is told in an 
interesting and succinct way. The author 
manages to include in this volume a mass of 
pertinent information, significant evaluations 
of missions, and critical problems which now 
confront missions. He supplies the reader 
with the difficulties and the problems of mis- 
sions today in the Muslim world and in 
Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. 
He writes about the sturdy qualities of early 
missionaries and the excruciating problems 

which they encountered. He faces up to the 
new problems of missions: retrenchment and 
the reduction of missionaries from 3,160 in 
1971 to 3,045 in 1976; independent mission 
churches; nationalism; decreased seminary 
candidates; loss of motivation and funds; 
and Communism. 

He finds encouragement in the new inter- 
est in missions, short term programs, world 
missionary radio, Bible correspondence 
courses, extension theological education, Bi- 
ble translations, literature Evangelism. He 
also is encouraged by the following: Evan- 
gelism in Depth (EID) pioneered by Dr. 
R. Kenneth Strachan, the Faith Mission 
Movement, the Bible Institute Movement, 
Inter-Varsity Fellowship, the Navigators, 
Campus Crusade, the Charismatic movement. 
He also refers to the fact that today 3,500 
non-Caucasian missionaries are serving in 
cross-cultural situations. And there are a 
number of thriving mission fellowships: The 
Interdenominational Foreign Mission Asso- 
ciation of the United States of America; The 
Christian Missionary Alliance Fellowship of 
Asia founded in 1970; The Asian Missionary 
Association, 1965; The East-West Center for 
Missionary Research and Development, 1975, 
whose purpose is to train 10,000 Asian mis- 
sionaries by the year 2000; The Chinese Con- 
gress on World Evangelization, 1976; The 
Evangelical Fellowship of India which spon- 
sored the All-India Congress on Mission and 
Evangelization. Similar groups in West Af- 
rica and Latin America have organized for 
missionary effort in those sections of the 

Many questions are raised by the author 
about the pros and cons of the Crusades; 
about the difficulties of missionary work 
among Muslims; about the impact of mis- 
sionary work on China, India, Japan, et al; 
about what missionaries did that was right 
and wrong; about the causes for the amaz- 
ing growth of Christianity in Africa; and 
about the prospect for missions today. 

While he poses problems for missions to- 
day, he is encouraged by the spiritual re- 
newal taking place in home churches, an 
increasing awareness of world problems, a 
renewed interest in evangelism, a concern 
for church growth, guided tours of the mis- 
sion fields, the demand for missiology as a 
respectable discipline in theological educa- 
tion, the present interest in religion, the 
wide distribution of the Scriptures, the pres- 



ent generation of student interest in mis- 
sions, and world wide communication 
through radio and TV. 

The author writes from a free Church 
tradition and does not attempt to deal in 
depth and extent with missions in the old 
line denominations. He does not attempt to 
enter into the theology of missionary mo- 
tivation and objectives. He has written a 
very good book which will certainly help to 
give committed Christians a much-needed 
knowledge of the world mission of Chris- 
tianity. He has succeeded in giving us a 
“concise” story of “the Christian world mis- 

Elmer G. Homrighausen 

Celebrating the Discipline : The 

Path to Spiritual Growth , by Richard 
J. Foster. New York: Harper & Row, 
San Francisco, CA, 1978. Pp. 179. 
$ 7 - 95 - 

Dr. Foster has written a timely, useful, 
comprehensive, well-organized and scholarly 
book on spiritual disciplines. As D. Elton 
Trueblood writes in the Foreword, “There 
are many books concerned with the inner 
life, but there are not many that combine 
real orginality with intellectual integrity.” 
This combination is found in Foster’s book. 

But how can disciplines be celebrated? 
After all, disciplines are rules and it is difficult 
if not impossible to sing about regulations! 
Foster maintains that when disciplines are 
turned into law they lead to death. On the 
contrary, when disciplines are seen as ways 
that lead to life, they can be regarded as 
gifts of God. “The spiritual disciplines are 
doors to liberation.” 

Foster believes that “superficiality is the 
curse of our age. The doctrine of instant sat- 
isfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The 
desperate need today is not for a greater 
number of intelligent people, or gifted peo- 
ple, but for deep people.” 

He also believes that disciplines are not 
for spiritual giants which are beyond the 
reach of ordinary people. God intends the 
fullness of life for “people who have jobs, 
who care for children, who must wash dishes 
and mow lawns.” 

The contents of Foster’s book are formu- 
lated around three disciplines: The Inward 

Disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting, 
study); The Outward Disciplines (simplic- 
ity, solitude, submission, service); The Cor- 
porate Disciplines (confession, worship, 
guidance, celebration). 

The reader will soon sense that Foster not 
only uses Scripture in his discussion of disci- 
plines, but the classics and a good measure 
of material from secular sources. 

In his discussion of meditation, he quotes 
Merton, “True contemplation is not a psy- 
chological trick but a theological grace.” 
And he discusses meditation in light of its 
widespread use in our time. While he grants 
that meditation does involve detachment, 
in the Christian sense it also involves at- 
tachment. He is aware of the threat of med- 
itation because it calls us to enter into the 
living presence of God for ourselves. And 
most people have never been taught how to 
meditate. He writes of the different forms of 
meditation and presents some specific ex- 
ercises for meaningful meditation. Medita- 
tion, says Foster, is closely associated with 
solitude (on which he writes a chapter). 
And it is not a single act, but it is a way of 

Perhaps Foster’s chapters on fasting, study, 
simplicity, and solitude will be appreciated 
most by Protestant readers. About fasting, 
John Wesley wrote that “some have exalted 
religious fasting beyond all Scripture and 
reason; and others have utterly disregarded 
it.” Foster writes about fasting in the Bible, 
in the life and teachings of Jesus, in the 
spiritual history of Christianity. Fasting for 
him is not only the abstinence from food, but 
the ascetic practice of living simply. How- 
ever, physical fasting can “bring break- 
throughs in the spiritual realm, that could 
never be had in any other way. It is a means 
of God’s grace and blessing that should not 
be neglected any longer.” 

It is encouraging to find a writer on spir- 
ituality emphasizing the discipline of ordered 
and hard study as a means of growth into 
the full stature of life in Christ. Often, theo- 
logical and/or Biblical study are regarded as 
separate from the cultivation of the spirit. 

In his Foreword, Trueblood singles out 
the chapter on “simplicity” as worthy of 
special mention; he likes Foster’s idea that 
simplicity goes beyond the adoption of “plain 
garb.” “Hang the fashions. Buy only what 
you need,” writes Foster. Trueblood adds, 
“Here is a radical proposal which, if widely 



adopted, would be immensely liberating to 
people who are the victims of the advertisers, 
particularly those on television. A genuine 
cultural revolution would ensure if consid- 
erable numbers were to obey the trenchant 
command, De-accumulate.” Amen! 

This book is a welcome guide to the dis- 
ciplines which beckon us to “the Himalayas 
of the Spirit.” 

Elmer G. Homrighausen 

Sacred Art in a Secular Century, by 
Horton & Hugh Davies. The Liturgical 
Press, Collegeville, Minn., 1978. Pp. 106. 

Under joint authorship (father and son) 
this book fulfills in all respects the purpose 
for which it was intended and the need it 
was designed to meet. “This handsome vol- 
ume,” states the book jacket, “was written 
with the purpose of aiding us to visualize 
and appreciate paintings, etchings, and sculp- 
tures done in our century, works which 
have given a rebirth to religious symbolism 
in art. Brief, but comprehensive, the volume 
examines the impact of twenty-four artists, 
including Chagall, Rouault, Nolde, Epstein, 
Lipchitz, Rothko, Moore, Bacon, Dali, Koll- 
witz, Barlach, Spencer, Picasso, and Richier.” 
The authors, Horton Davies, whose five-vol- 
ume series on Worship and Theology in Eng- 
land (Princeton University Press) established 
his reputation internationally as a research 
historian and liturgical scholar, and his son, 
Hugh, director of the University Gallery, 
University of Massachusetts/Amherst, have 
produced a definitive piece of artistic work 
for which they were equipped aesthetically 
and academically in a superior way. 

In an age when traditional symbols are 
falling into disuse and are being replaced 
by pale substitutes, the authors address them- 
selves to two basic questions: (i) Is it pos- 
sible to recover an appreciation of the power 
and meaning of traditional religious sym- 
bols? And (ii), can attempts be made to 
establish new patterns of religious symbols 
or new meanings for old symbols that will 
communicate immediately to moderns? (p. 
3). There follow four discussions: an intro- 
ductory survey of trends among symbolic 
interpretations and suggested accountings of 
them, the clusters of schools of artistic ex- 

pression, and the perspectives which facilitate 
our understanding of their meaning; (1) 
Old Symbols Renewed and Revised; (2) Old 
Symbols Syncretized or Secularized; (3) New 
Symbols and Emphases; and (4) A New 
Religious Spirit and Its Signs. Through well 
annotated footnotes, a selected bibliography, 
and the assistance of an abundance of prints 
and illustrations, even the amateur student 
of art and symbolism can find his/her way 
appreciatively in these chapters. 

This is a book to refer to again and again 
for information, but more than this, it indi- 
cates that an era of art and symbolism has 
come sufficiently of age and that the time is 
opportune for mature reflection upon it. The 
Davieses have not only initiated it, but have 
set a high standard for others to profit by 
and emulate. 

Donald Macleod 

Unfinished Easter : Sermons on the 
Ministry, by David H. C. Read. Harper 
& Row, Publishers, San Francisco, 
CA, 1978. Pp. 132. $4.95. 

Those of us who have learned to expect 
only the first-rate in the writings of David 
H. C. Read will not be disappointed in this 
latest collection of sermons from his pulpit 
and pen. Since 1956, Dr. Read has been 
senior minister at the Madison Avenue Pres- 
byterian Church in New York City, having 
come to America from the position of chap- 
lain to students at the University of Edin- 
burgh. Through the National Radio Pulpit, 
his publications (thirteen books) and the 
weekly witness of his own pulpit, he is gen- 
erally regarded today as one of the most 
respected voices in the ministry of the United 
Presbyterian Church, USA. One of his more 
obvious competencies is to be able to interest 
a sophisticated congregation and at the same 
time to be appreciated and understood by 
common people. 

Here, in this slim volume, are eighteen 
short sermons from his National Radio Pulpit 
program. What makes them distinctive, apart 
from their religious and literary substance, is 
their focus upon the ministry — not profes- 
sionally — and “what does the preacher really 
believe when not in the pulpit doing his 
job?” (Preface). Dr. Read poses questions and 
then answers them from the perspective of 



his own life, beliefs, and experience. Some 
of these questions are: What Makes Me a Be- 
liever? I’m Praying for You — So What? Who 
Could Be Against Jesus? Do We Have to 
Be Zealous? These chapters read like devo- 
tionals and are equally inspiring. 

No one can decipher or explain another 
preacher’s pulpit effectiveness; yet there are 
certain characteristics about Dr. Read’s ser- 
monic witness which provide at least a partial 
answer. Apart from his basic sense of the 
claim of the Gospel, he is positive about 
preaching. Can we imagine ever his “chuck- 
ing” the pulpit for sitting cross-legged on a 
rug and listing the pluses and minuses of his 
personal counteractions to and from others? 
He has, moreover, a sober sensitivity to the 
problems Christianity poses and which quasi- 
Christianity discards as unreal or irrelevant. 
Again and again he takes certain concepts 
or terms and rescues them from minimal 
meanings and helps us to see them in their 
Christian connotation. Often through merely 
a simple aside and in contemporary terms he 
shows a fresh and perceptive grasp of the 
human problem. No one should model his 
or her preaching ministry after another or 
teach others to do so. Nevertheless preachers 
will read these chapters to their own per- 
sonal edification and profit. 

Donald Macleod 

Living in a New Age, by Laurence 
H. Stookey, C.S.S. Publishing Co., 
Lima, O., 1977. Pp. no. $3.25. 

This is a series of nine sermons for Easter- 
tide, based upon the lections for Year B in 
the United Methodist Alternate Lectionary. 
The author, Laurence Stookey, is associate 
professor of Preaching and Worship at Wes- 
ley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. 
The title is suggested by the general theme 
of Easter and the sermons are related to the 
idea of that new age which God through his 
redemptive work in Christ has achieved. The 
Introduction discusses the structure of the 
lectionary for this particular season and in- 
cludes some background observations upon 
the pericopes and the biblical writer. The 
first sermon is an innovative and creative 
presentation intended for Easter Eve or a 
Vigil. The rest are based largely upon the 
First Epistle of John and are followed indi- 

vidually at the end by a reflective commen- 
tary. Professor Stookey is generally a clear 
and plain writer, although the line of thought 
in some of these sermons could be more 
finely honed. Nevertheless, these chapters 
represent good background thinking and 
evidences of a clear understanding of the 
nature and purpose of preaching within a 
liturgical context. 

Donald Macleod 

A Princeton Companion, by Alex- 
ander Leitch. Princeton University 
Press, Princeton, N.J., 1978. Pp. 559. 

This book is “the work of many hands.” 
From the perspectives of interesting sub- 
stance, historical and biographical matters, 
and even technical craftsmanship, it is an 
example of editorial excellence. The editor 
and compiler, Alexander Leitch, served 
Princeton University in a series of responsible 
capacities: a member of the Class of 1924 he 
spent forty-two years in the employ of his 
alma mater under Presidents Hibben, Dodds, 
and Goheen. As an officer of the administra- 
tion the sequence of his roles included thirty 
years as Secretary of the University. His 
grasp of campus affairs and his acquaintance 
with a host of world figures and significant 
campus personalities equipped him adequately 
to select the names and subjects for this en- 
cyclopedia of the varied items and annals of 
the history of one of the nation’s great uni- 

Anyone who has studied at Princeton or 
has had an acquaintance with the Princeton 
community will find this volume a real fasci- 
nation to read and explore. Whether it be a 
biographical sketch of a “name” scholar or 
scientist, the development of an academic de- 
partment, the story of a campus building or 
quadrangle, the fortunes of athletic teams or 
sports, the magnificent Gothic chapel, or the 
career of the eating clubs, here is interesting 
reading for everyone and a treasure of liter- 
ary quality commensurate with the reputa- 
tion of the school it celebrates. 

Donald Macleod 

Church Music and the Christian 
Faith, by Erik Routley. Agape, Carol 



Stream, 111 , 1978. Pp. 153. $3.95 (paper). 

Erik Routley, formerly a minister in Edin- 
burgh, Scotland, and lecturer and Chaplain 
of Mansfield College, Oxford, and at present 
a member of the faculty of Westminster 
Choir College, is one of today’s best-known 
figures in the field of church music. He is 
also a theologian, seeking to provide insights 
into the relationship between theology and 
church music. What he offers in this new 
book echoes theoretical and practical matters 
from his earlier Church Music and Theology 
(SCM Press, 1959) — updated, to be sure, but 
in essence the same arguments. It seems as if 
he hopes, by restating his case, someone will 
finally listen. I should hope the same. Erik 
Routley deserves to be listened to! 

The problem to which Dr. Routley ad- 
dresses himself is finding a theological basis 
for judging and using church music — an 
issue which must be dealt with apart from 
the “establishment” attitudes of patronizing 
indifference or repressive dogmatism. “What 
theology ought to be able to achieve,” writes 
Dr. Routley, “is not so much the establishing 
of laws [after the manner of the Old Testa- 
ment] as the removing of taboos, embarrass- 
ments, and barriers to decent conversation. 
This is what the New Testament is about.” 
From a New Testament gospel of grace, he 
invokes a principle of restraint in church mu- 
sic. Beauty, he suggests, is a by-product of 
this, and is not to be sought after self-con- 
sciously (as in much music of the Romantic 
genre). Johann Sebastian Bach serves as Dr. 
Routley’s model of self-restraint and self-re- 

The book is full of musical illustrations— 
enough so, that the reader will want to be 
near a piano to discover what’s “good” and 
what’s “bad” about the examples; in which 
instances “breaking” certain musical “laws” 
(e.g., no parallel fifths or octaves) can pro- 
duce “ugly” music, and in which passages 
such deviations from these “laws” can be 
appropriate and “right.” The examples serve 
well to raise the reader’s musical conscious- 
ness. And Dr. Routley’s incisive, lively, and 
often witty and down-to-earth commentary 
further underscores his arguments: (“. . . 
How often a reviewer finds himself hard put 
to devise a way of saying without offense, 
‘This new anthem is blameless but scream- 
ingly dull.’ ”) 

Dr. Routley attacks, with solid theological 

and aesthetical ammunition, many practices 
of church musicians today. Take, for example, 
the “tendency to begin in one key and end in 
another, not infrequently in the key a tone 
higher.” (I once heard an organist play 
“Christ of the Upward Way,” raising each 
of the four verses by a half-step!) Dr. Rout- 
ley’s comment: “I have heard organists do 
this . . . , blissfully ignored that the source 
of their inspiration is cafeteria-Muzak.” 

As an example of other customs “which 
have precious little authority or precedent 
and about which questions are never asked,” 
Dr. Routley discusses the singing of “Amen” 
at the end of all hymns. This was appropriate, 
he points out, to ancient Ambrosian hymns 
ending with a trinitarian doxology (the 
“Amen” signifying a “This we believe!” 
voiced by orthodox Christians). However: 

Singing amen after post-Reformation 
hymns was unknown before about 1850. 
There is no older precedent for it, it was 
in any case an error, and those who initi- 
ated it have long repented of it. It is an 
excellent example of a custom which peo- 
ple still jealously guard in America, any 
criticism of which arouses great indigna- 
tion, and any argument against which is 

Worshippers who are appalled by the noisy 
chatter which usually precedes the service 
will take delight in Dr. Routley’s advice on 
that matter: 

The horror of any kind of silence is a 
frequent symptom in Britain; in some 
American circles it is a disease in an ad- 
vanced stage. Choirs and clergy chatter 
about everything under the sun until sec- 
onds before the service, and naturally 
congregations follow their example. It is 
considered unneighborly not to chatter. 
The truth that it is at some seasons un- 
neighborly to chatter is always overlooked. 
In extreme cases there is only one remedy. 
This is to ask the organist to collaborate by 
keeping the instrument silent altogether 
before the introit or the first hymn; then 
to instruct the choir, after the vestry 
prayer, to remain totally silent until they 
open their mouths in song; then for the 
clergy to take on themselves a two-minute 
Trappist vow — and only when everybody 
has got used to silence (the removal of the 
organ music for a while is the best way of 



shutting up the gossipers; they soon feel 
out of place) should the pre-service volun- 
tary be restored. 

Should hymns be sung in harmony or 
unison? What about processionals? Alterna- 
tives to the pipe organ (piano, guitar, elec- 
tronic organ [“. . . an instrument appropri- 
ate to the support of whatever hymns they 
sing in hell”])? These and many other prac- 
tical and theoretical matters are faced head 
on by Dr. Routley — as they should be by all 
who are concerned with music in the church. 
Church Music and the Christian Faith is a 
remarkably fine book. It should be read by 
every pastor, choir director, organist, singer 
and non-singer. Everyone will not agree with 
all of Dr. Routley’s points, but at least, per- 
haps, they will begin to do some long over- 
due thinking about theology and music. 

G. R. Jacks 

Our Own Hymnboo/{, by C. H. Spur- 
geon. Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, 
Tex., 1975. Pp. 264. $3.25 (paper). 

This facsimile reprinting of the hymnal 
compiled in 1866 by Charles H. Spurgeon 
and used during his fruitful ministry at Lon- 
don’s Metropolitan Tabernacle is to be noted 
by students of hymnology and the history of 
preaching and worship. A compendium of 
1,060 hymns and metrical psalms, the collec- 
tion draws upon four centuries of British and 
American hymnody and serves as a ready 
gauge of theological emphases in worship in 
the evangelical tradition of the nineteenth 
century. Although the majority of Spurgeon’s 
selections are of eighteenth-century origin, 
there is a liberal sprinkling of “contemporary 
hymns” of the Victorian era, as well as a 
number of Spurgeon’s own poems. 

Spurgeon published works of earlier au- 
thors in relatively unaltered form, although 
occasionally he omitted one or more of their 
original stanzas. While most of these texts 
have passed out of common usage, this vol- 
ume constitutes an accessible resource for 
those who wish to compare modern editions 
of many hymn texts with their original 
forms. Spurgeon’s comprehensive index of 
first lines of stanzas commends this collection 
to preachers and others who find occasion to 
quote fragments of hymns. Useful as well 

are Spurgeon’s detailed topical index and 
doctrinally-arranged table of contents. 

In a time of liturgical renewal and em- 
phasis upon the heritage of Christian wor- 
ship, readily affordable reprintings of sig- 
nificant historical material are to be wel- 
comed. This little book should find a secure 
place in the library of anyone for whom the 
evolution of congregational praise holds pro- 
fessional or aesthetic interest. 

R. David Hoffelt 

Henry Ward Beecher: Spokesman for 
a Middle-Class America , by Clifford 
E. Clark, Jr. University of Illinois Press, 
Urbana, 111 ., 1978. Pp. 288. $12.95. 

In this thorough and balanced account, 
Clark presents a sensitive and engaging por- 
trait of the popular preacher who embodied 
as much as anyone else the aspirations and 
ambivalences of an increasingly urban Amer- 
ica in the middle decades of the nineteenth 
century. Clark relates the development of 
specific themes in Beecher’s preaching and 
writing over the span of a half-century to 
his calculated response to such challenges as 
sectionalism and industrialization. In so do- 
ing, he traces Beecher’s gradual shift from 
enterprising evangelicalism to a romantic 
Christianity of morality and responsible in- 
dividualism in a pluralistic social context. 
Regarding Beecher’s own story as an index 
of cultural values of the Victorian era, Clark 
attributes Beecher’s popularity to his ability 
to arouse the sympathies and assuage the 
anxieties of his generation with a message 
of hope, self-improvement, and purposeful 

Emphasizing the unevenness and incon- 
sistency of Beecher’s theological views, Clark 
writes of the divergences and affinities of 
Beecher’s thought with that of other promi- 
nent churchmen of his time, notably the work 
of Horace Bushnell. He makes highly satis- 
factory use of Beecher’s correspondence with 
other members of his family and of the ef- 
fects of Beecher’s public career on his domes- 
tic life. Also significant is Clark’s convincing 
investigation of the central, though often 
overlooked! influence! of personal friendship 
and animosity in Beecher’s much-publicized 
trial for adultery. 

Clark’s sympathetic biography demonstrates 



the close interaction of personal motivation 
with Beecher’s public stance, although the 
reader frequently may wish for a more inti- 
mate treatment of Beecher’s complex per- 
sonality than is presented. Further, if one 
might take exception to the degree of Beech- 
er’s importance in social reform which Clark 
implies, it may be due to a lingering suspi- 
cion that Beecher’s influence derived as much 
from the manner of his oratory as from the 
positions he espoused. A more systematic 
analysis of the operational effect of Beecher’s 

preaching and lecturing would enhance 
Clark’s comprehensive summary of Beecher’s 
thematic content and ideological tendencies. 

Still, it is difficult to disagree with Clark’s 
insights into Beecher’s personality and as- 
sessment of his unparalleled success as a 
spokesman for the spirit of an age more 
perplexed than it liked to admit. The study 
rests on solid scholarship and commends it- 
self as interpretive biography which is no 
less enjoyable than it is enlightening. 

R. David Hoffelt 


by Donald Macleod 

ALLPORT, Gordon W., Waiting 
for the Lord (33 Meditations on God 
and Man). Macmillan Pub. Co., Inc., 
New York, N.Y., 1978. Pp. 123. $5.95. 

With an Introduction by Peter A. Bertocci, 
this volume provides us with thirty-three 
concise and thoughtful meditations by Gor- 
don W. Allport of Harvard whom Richard 
I. Evans describes as a writer in the areas of 
psychology of personality and social psychol- 
ogy whose works practicing clinical psychol- 
ogists found “second only to Freud’s in day- 
to-day usefulness.” 

Any morning, prior to the nine o’clock 
bell, a small group of young people, faculty 
members, and community folk may be seen 
entering Appleton Chapel by Harvard Yard 
for a fifteen minute period of worship and 
reflection. Twice a year for twenty-eight years 
Gordon Allport was responsible for leader- 
ship of the service. In his introductory re- 
marks, Peter Bertocci (Browne Professor of 
Philosophy at Boston University) writes: 
“Quiet, unobtrusive, with a goading sense 
of responsibility for his own privileges and 
for the underprivileged, Allport found deep 
satisfaction in the life of the worshipping 
community” (p. xvii). 

Biblically based and person centered, these 
talks make worthwhile reading. Many sen- 
tences are as perceptive as they are quotable: 
“A sensitive intelligence is satisfied only if 
it can operate in some bigger frame of refer- 
ence than that which it provides for itself” 
(p. 5); “Hope can be transvalued into a 
Christian virtue, provided it loses its self- 
centered reference” (p. 20); “How, in a uni- 
versity, does one obey the First Command- 
ment? Figuratively as well as literally start 
the day at 8:45 with the Whole and not 
merely at 9 o’clock with the part” (p. 87); 
“In our modern educational setting we spend 
most of our time with the characteristic what 
questions, not with the ultimate what for 
questions” (p. 106). Always a student of the 
Bible, he read it, as he said, for insights not 
only into the what of human behavior but 

into the why of God’s purpose for humanity. 
Western culture, he felt, persists in separat- 
ing these two questions that belong “natural- 
ly together.” 

Most preachers will find congenial thought 
sequences in these pages and not a few ideas 
by which to stretch their minds. 

BURKE, John, Gospel Power. Alba 
House, New York, N.Y., 1978. Pp. 117. 
$ 4 - 95 - 

This book adds another title to a growing 
list of books on preaching by leading think- 
ers in the Roman Catholic Church. Fr. Burke, 
who serves as Executive Director of the Word 
of God Institute in Washington, D.C., comes 
to us with credentials above average in qual- 
ity and quantity. With a background of 
study and practice in communications (as 
an associate director with NBC), in drama 
(he has a Master’s degree in the field), and 
in theology (a doctorate in Sacred Theology), 
he is well fitted to apply various critical 
criteria to contemporary preaching. This he 
does competently in the opening pages of 
his discussion of “Gospel Power” and our 
vocation as preachers (pp. ix-xiv). The body 
of the book is taken up with three kinds of 
preaching (evangelization, catechesis, and 
didascalia) and concludes with a short treat- 
ment of the liturgical homily. Throughout 
these chapters Fr. Burke’s writing is sustained 
by a good preliminary definition of preach- 
ing and a high estimate of its nature and 
objective. His method is marked by an effort 
to teach homiletical theory descriptively rath- 
er than didactically. His thinking is both 
biblically and theologically oriented and, al- 
though many truths and concepts he urges 
have been common to Protestant preaching 
for centuries, yet all of us appreciate his 
reiterating them so definitively. His perspec- 
tive on the prerogatives of witness and procla- 
mation, however, could benefit from some 
straightening: it is because there was origi- 
nally a Gospel that we have the Church and 



to that Gospel the Church must ever be in 
submission and under its judgment and 

COLQUHOUN, Frank, Christ’s Am- 
bassadors. Baker Book House, Grand 
Rapids, Mich., 1979. Pp. 93. $2.50. 

This small volume is a reprint of an earlier 
edition (1965) in the Canterbury Books 
series by the former editor of “The Church- 
man” (British). Colquhoun, whose earlier 
books include the very useful Parish Prayers 
and Contemporary Parish Prayers (Hodder 
& Stoughton), is presently Canon Residen- 
tiary and Vice-Dean of Norwich Cathedral, 
England. In the course of five chapters he 
makes a strong case for the preacher’s voca- 
tion and his responsibility in the pulpit for 
competent biblical exposition. Although some 
may question what seems to be an undue tra- 
ditionalism in his position, yet any of us 
cannot help sensing his understanding of the 
deeply personal character of preaching, its 
inseparability from God’s act of grace in 
history, and its sacramental role in the 

CRUM, Milton, Jr., Manual on 
Preaching. Judson Press, Valley Forge, 
Pa., 1977. Pp. 189. $8.95. 

This is not just another book about preach- 
ing. It is one of the more scholarly and aca- 
demically respectable monographs on preach- 
ing to appear in several decades. Professor 
Crum, who for the past dozen years has 
taught homiletics at the Protestant Episcopal 
Seminary in Virginia, has given us a manual 
on the discipline of sermon development 
which deserves careful exploration. His aim 
is “to assist preachers in actually doing 
preaching” (p. 10) and this he acknowledges 
cannot be done without bringing together 
the HOW and the WHY of preaching the 
Good News. 

The book is built around his own method 
and he testifies that “this method works.” He 
spells out (p. 16) the character of his method 
under three foci: the Bible, human life (your 
own and the congregation’s at the deeper 
level of behavior), and the sermon as story. 

There follow seven cogent chapters which 
embrace the process of sermon creation, the 
hermeneutical task, the story product, etc. 
Among these, several discussions are origi- 
nal and fresh: the dynamics of the sermon 
and the liturgical context of preaching. This 
book is the product of wide and varied 
reading in a number of allied fields, including 
history, theology, and human behaviorism, 
with up to date references to a host of 
contemporary thinkers and scholars, such as 
Funk, Ramm, McLuhan, Wink, and many 
others. All teachers of preaching will discover 
in Crum’s chapters a refresher course in the 
fine art of preaching. 

GLASSE, James D., The Art of 
Spiritual Sna 1 {ehandling and Other 
Sermons. Abingdon Press, Nashville, 
Tenn., 1979. Pp. 112. $3.95. 

Your reviewer came to this book with 
more than usual interest because wherever 
and whenever he preached in any pulpit the 
Sunday after Dr. Glasse was the guest, the 
people were high in their praises of “the 
man from Lancaster.” Although we have 
never met, yet the name of the President of 
Lancaster Theological Seminary is securely in 
the column of effective preachers. 

This slim paperback contains sermons 
given at the preaching services at the Chau- 
tauqua Institution in the summer of 1976. 
Along with the eight sermons, the author 
has included an interesting introduction and 
an epilogue consisting of personal observa- 
tions on preaching and the preacher. Dr. 
Glasse is a topical preacher with a definite 
biblical orientation and an obviously deep 
understanding of the human problem. The 
whole world of church administration, parish 
concerns, student queries, and contemporary 
domestic give-and-take are his province. Yet, 
as he unravels an issue, it is from the per- 
spective of the gospel of the New Testament 
that he begins his solution. This is a good 
book for a preacher to read on a rainy 
Sunday afternoon. 

GWYNNE, Walker, The Christian 
Tear. Longmans, Green, & Co., New 
York, N.Y., 1917. (Reprinted by Grand 



River Books, Detroit, Mich., 1971). Pp. 

143. $11.00. 

This is an old book, yet its quality merited 
a reprint for contemporary accessibility. The 
scarcity of monographs on the Christian Year 
prompted the author at that time to devour 
Hooker, Dowden, Staley, Duchesne, and 
Seabury and to produce a compact, factually 
dependable, and historically and biblically 
oriented accounting of the origins, signifi- 
cance, and values of the church calendar. In 
the course of twenty-three brief chapters, Dr. 
Gwynne encapsulates cogently the facts, 
moods, and liturgical thrust of each festival 
and provides some clear guidelines which 
can serve to regularize many matters now 
victimized by confusion. 

HARRIS, Irving, The Breeze of the 
Spirit. The Seabury Press, New York, 
N.Y., 1978. Pp. 190. $8.95. 

The influence of the personal ministry of 
Samuel M. Shoemaker and the emergence of 
the Faith-at-Work movement are the con- 
comitant themes of this book. Few persons 
possessed the qualifications to write this 
story as had Irving Harris whose identifica- 
tion with Shoemaker’s varied ministries lent 
a first-time-ness to this book which otherwise 
would not have been possible. In the course 
of nineteen chapters, Harris sketches the 
depth and breadth of Shoemaker’s great hu- 
manity, his love of people, the vast network 
of his personal connections (all of which 
were extensions of his ministry), and the 
liveliness of the Gospel which nourished 
him and through him nourished others. 
Anyone who is eager to see the Christian faith 
as a moving and redeeming drama in the 
world of common men and women will read 
this book with much satisfaction. 

HORNE, Chevis F., Being Christian 
in Our Town. Broadman Press, Nash- 
ville, Term., 1978. Pp. 138. $3.50. 

Chevis Horne is beginning his thirty-first 
year as minister at the First Baptist Church, 
Martinsville, Va. In an age when so many 
pastors flit from bloom to bloom or, as a 

former dean at Princeton once said, “hurry 
to exchange one set of headaches for an- 
other,” it is salutory to find a member of the 
clergy spending a lifetime in the same parish. 
In his dedication of this new book of ser- 
mons, Dr. Horne refers to his own congre- 
gation as “exceptionally mature, loving, ac- 
cepting, and supportive people.” In being 
so, these people at the same time have 
called forth from their minister a strong 
pulpit witness of which these sermons are 
ample proof. 

Here are fifteen sermons in which Dr. 
Horne shows himself as a good writer whose 
style is crisp and clean and frequently punc- 
tuated with sentences that are quotable. He 
is a teacher in the pulpit. His illustrations 
are drawn from the Bible, literature, and 
everyday events, but are never hackneyed or 
overdrawn. In the Foreword, David H. C. 
Read writes: “It is refreshing to have these 
sermons issued for what they are without 
apology — the weekly exposition of the word 
by a devoted and competent workman.” 

KENIN, Richard & WINTLE, Jus- 
tin, The Dictionary of Biographical 
Quotation. Alfred A. Knopf, New 
York, N.Y., 1978. Pp. 860. $25.00. 

Two sentences describe this unique en- 
cyclopedia: “The most complete dictionary 
we are ever likely to have of WHO SAID 
WHAT ABOUT WHOM.” “A book to ex- 
plore, to quote aloud from, to consult (and 
to browse through) in search of the human 
essence of virtually every man and woman 
who has left a name, for good or ill, in the 
annals of Britain and America.” This mas- 
sive collection (over 1,000 names) of remarks 
made by and about distinguished persons 
represents the fruits of a research team 
which made their final selections from a 
mountain of biographical quotations. People 
from all walks of life are included, prepon- 
derantly British because she is older but 
from the twentieth century there are more 
Americans. The choices of comments are 
well balanced so that a fair number of one’s 
admirers appear side by side with one’s 
detractors. All of us are aware, of course, 
that in any estimate of another, the writer 
reveals something of himself or herself. It is 
fascinating simply to select persons of a well 



known literary, political, or scientific repu- 
tation and note how the editors “sought the 
magic that comes when insight and expres- 
sion are married into a new amalgam of 
content and form” (p. xvii). This book is a 
presentation volume of unique character and 
lasting interest. 

KNUDSEN, Raymond B., Develop- 
ing Dynamic Stewardship. Abingdon 
Press, Nashville, Tenn., 1978. Pp. 127. 
$ 3 - 95 - 

With the current rash of books on evan- 
gelism, some people may lose sight of the 
fact that stewardship is the ethical extension 
of the commitment the former involves and 
demands. The author of this collection of 
fifteen sermons is fully aware of this pos- 
sibility and hence he claims that “total com- 
mitment of one’s self completely to Christ — 
spiritually, financially, and socially — is es- 
sential for a strong, enduring personal faith 
as well as for a giving church today.” Dr. 
Knudsen, who is president of the Counselor 
Association and writer of the widely syndi- 
cated column, “The Counselor,” writes with 
zeal and an up-to-date-ness that is refreshing. 
Accompanied by a store of everyday refer- 
ences and allusions his method is to talk 
to us while he explores our religious diseases 
and indicates routes towards cures. Budget 
Sundays can be a nightmare (especially after 
5-10 years in the same pulpit). Author Knud- 
sen shows us how exciting our appeal can be 
when the New Testament concept of stew- 
ardship is related to the whole of life. 

RAINES, Robert A., Going Home. 
Harper & Row, Publishers, San Fran- 
cisco, CA, 1979. Pp. 145. $6.95. 

From the point of view of literary style, 
classical allusions, and precise composition 
the author of this book deserves very high 
marks. The sub-title elaborates upon the 
main title: Going Home comprises “a per- 
sonal story of self-discovery, a journey from 
despair to hope.” The saga unfolds in five 
chapters: Apprehended; Leaving Home; 

Living in Tents; Being Reborn; and Going 
Home. As a story it is very readable and as 

drama it spells out more fully than the 
average newspaper does the parallel plots of 
life in the every day. 

There are many things about this book 
that are puzzling and none of them is more 
enigmatic than the nagging question: why 
was it written? If it were intended for parish 
ministers, we are sure none would find in 
such a pitiable and pitiful tale any urging to 
“go and do likewise” or to tell others to do 
so. Maybe it was intended as an elegant 
rationalization of a post-parish, post-pulpit, 
post-domestic, post-everything situation. But 
neither is this useful to us because we are 
not shown how a selfish self was re-born 
into a suffering servant; rather we are told 
how to exchange one set of circumstances for 
another and call it fulfillment. The basic 
issue here is very, very old. Paul analyzed it 
in his Letter to the Romans (ca. A.D. 57) 
and John Bunyan dramatized it in Pilgrim's 
Progress (A.D. 1678). “Despair” and “hope” 
are not pieces in a game in which “fulfill- 
ment” means getting what you want regard- 
less of who may be hurt. The soap opera 
mentality may luxuriate on a straw mat, but 
it says No to self only when it faces up to a 
Calvary. Maybe this book unthinkingly un- 
derscores this fact. 

RAWLINS, C. L., Index Volume : 
The Daily Study Bible, by William 
Barclay. Westminster Press, Philadel- 
phia, Pa., 1978. Pp. 213. $3.75. 

Sooner or later someone would put us in 
his or her debt by compiling a subject-index 
for Dr. Barclay’s seventeen-volume Daily 
Study Bible. The publishing manager of the 
St. Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Mr. C. L. 
Rawlins, has fulfilled our common need and 
in honor of the author (Dr. Barclay died 
before the Index was published or a prom- 
ised Foreword written) has presented the 
Index as a memorial to “this great man, 
undoubtedly one of the foremost communi- 
cators of the Christian faith of the century” 
(p. ix). There are six indexes here: Old 
Testament, New Testament, Subjects and 
Places, Personal Names, Foreign Words and 
Phrases, and Ancient Writings. 

Rawlins, in his Introduction, describes the 
enormous output of the late Glasgow pro- 
fessor (more than sixty books in his life- 



time), singling out particularly The Daily 
Study Bible which he prefers to describe as 
“a daily study of the Bible.” This seventeen- 
volume series is characterized as “informa- 
tive, devotional, and relevant” (p. vi). The 
method is not that of the technical com- 
mentator, although behind it lies “a master- 
ful comprehension of biblical learning.” It is 
the work of one in whose hands “the world 
of the New Testament comes vibrantly alive” 
and through whose explorations “the real 
meaning and present-day reality of every 
passage” are made clear. Barclay’s aim is not 
“clinical precision,” but through his writings 
he seeks to work “a powerful encounter” 
between humanity and “an infectious love 
for Christ.” His comprehensive grasp of 
scripture and his ability to illustrate its mes- 
sage through classical and homely anecdotes 
and historical incidents are now made more 
fully available by this handy index. 

TYLER, Edward, Prayers in Cele- 
bration of the Turning Year. Abingdon 
Press, Nashville, Tenn., 1978. Pp. 96. 
$ 5 - 95 - 

Edward Tyler lives in Vermont in an old 
house where he and his artist wife collaborate 
in writing, designing, and printing their own 
books. A graduate of Bates College and Yale 
Divinity School, Tyler has served as chaplain 
at the University of Vermont and as minister 
of local churches. Here, in this slim volume, 
he gives us a collection of prayers for both 
the natural and festival seasons of the year. 
Written in exciting imagery and with a deep 
sense of human care, these prayers are gems 
of devotion and will be used widely by 
leaders of worship for group meetings with- 
in and beyond formal church exercises. 

WALLIS, Charles L. (ed.), The Min- 
isters Manual. (1979 Edition). Harper 
& Row, Publishers, San Francisco, 
CA, 1979. Pp. 280. $7.95. 

Continuing Doran’s tradition of fifty-four 
years, Charles L. Wallis gives us his tenth 
edition of what is recognized as one of the 
most healthy examples of pulpit and worship 
aids published in America. This volume, 
comprising a wide variety of sources, repre- 
sents the best thoughts of many religious 
leaders and preachers of the contemporary 
scene. The editor, who is also editor of Pulpit 
Digest, combines an unusual competence in 
seeking out materials of real substance with 
an apparatus of indexes which makes for 
ready reference. This is not a book for those 
who want others to do their thinking for 
them; it is an auxiliary repository out of 
which items may be drawn to make one’s 
original ideas more palatable and interesting. 

WATERS, Moir A.J., Wings of 
Song. 1978. Pp. 60. (Printed privately. 
Inquire to Rev. M.A.J. Waters, 383 
Wharncliffe Road, London, Ont., Can- 
ada N6G 1E4). 

Among Canadian hymn writers, the Rev. 
Moir A.J. Waters has established his repu- 
tation in two collections, Ma\e a Joyful 
Noise! and the more recent, Wings of Song. 
In the latter we have thirty new hymns, 
each of which is prefaced by a unique intro- 
ductory page indicating the genesis of the 
poem and the significance of its message. 
These hymns were inspired by various devo- 
tional and scriptural experiences and more 
than one was written to be used on a particu- 
lar occasion or to mark a congregational 
anniversary or event. All of us expect Dr. 
Waters to continue his productivity. One 
would wish, however, for him to fill out the 
great lack in our Protestant hymnody of 
meaningful hymns in the category of Holy 
Spirit, Sacraments (Baptism and Lord’s Sup- 
per), Adoration, Stewardship, and national 
holidays. We have re-established many of 
our Christian festivals and emphases, but we 
feel impoverished when we attempt to ex- 
press them in song. 




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